Nonviolence in a gun-filled West: A conversation with authors Ryan Busse and Bryce Andrews
The Montana Book Festival welcomes authors Ryan Busse (Gunfight, 2020) and Bryce Andrews (Holding Fire, 2023) to the Zootown Arts Community Center in Missoula for an off-season event, produced by Montana Public Radio. Join Ryan and Bryce in a conversation about nonviolence in a gun-filled West. Sunday, June 4th, at 7 p.m.
This event is free with a $10 suggested donation, with proceeds going toward the 2023 Montana Book Festival. This conversation will be recorded by MTPR for a future on-air broadcast.
About Gunfight: As an avid hunter, outdoorsman, and conservationist—all things that the firearms industry was built on—Ryan Busse chased a childhood dream and built a successful career selling millions of firearms for one of America’s most popular gun companies. But blinded by the promise of massive profits, the gun industry abandoned its self-imposed decency in favor of hardline conservatism and McCarthy-esque internal policing, sowing irreparable division in our politics and society. That drove Busse to do something few other gun executives have done: He's ending his 30-year career in the industry to show us how and why we got here.
Gunfight: My Battle Against the Industry That Radicalized America is an insider’s call-out of a wild, secretive, and critically important industry. It shows us how America's gun industry shifted from prioritizing safety and ethics to one that is addicted to fear, conspiracy, intolerance, and secrecy. It recounts Busse's personal transformation and shows how authoritarianism spreads in the guise of freedom, how voicing one's conscience becomes an act of treason in a culture that demands sameness and loyalty. Gunfight offers a valuable perspective as the nation struggles to choose between armed violence or healing.
About Ryan: Ryan Busse is a former firearms executive who helped build one of the world’s most iconic gun companies, and was nominated multiple times by industry colleagues for the prestigious Shooting Industry Person of The Year Award. Busse is an environmental advocate who served in many leadership roles for conservation organizations, including as an advisor for the United States Senate Sportsmen’s Caucus and the Biden Presidential Campaign. He remains a proud outdoorsman, gun owner, father, and resident of Montana.
About Holding Fire: Bryce Andrews was raised to do no harm. The son of a pacifist and conscientious objector, he moved from Seattle to Montana to tend livestock and the land as a cowboy. For a decade, he was happy. Yet, when Andrews inherited his grandfather’s Smith & Wesson revolver, he felt the weight of the violence braided into his chosen life. Other white men who’d come before him had turned firearms like this one against wildlife, wilderness, and the Indigenous peoples who had lived in these landscapes for millennia. This was how the West was “won.” Now, the losses were all around him and a weapon was in his hand. In precise, elegiac prose, Andrews chronicles his journey to forge a new path for himself, and to reshape one handgun into a tool for good work. As waves of gun violence swept the country and wildfires burned across his beloved valley, he began asking questions—of ranchers, his Native neighbors, his family, and a blacksmith who taught him to shape steel—in search of a new way to live with the land and with one another. In laying down his arms, he transformed an inherited weapon, his ranch, and the arc of his life.
Holding Fire: A Reckoning with the American West is a deeply felt memoir of one Western heart’s wild growth, and a personal testament to how things that seem permanent—inheritance, legacies of violence, forged steel—can change.
About Bryce: Bryce Andrews is the author of Down from the Mountain, which won the Banff Mountain Book Competition and was a Montana Book Award Honor Title and an Amazon Best Science Title of 2019. His first book was Badluck Way, which won the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award, the Reading the West Book Award for nonfiction, and the High Plains Book Award for both nonfiction and debut book. Andrews grew up in Seattle, Washington, and spent a decade working on ranches in the high valleys of Montana. He lives near Missoula with his family.