In a clear signal of how the administration views recreational shooters, a new federal advisory committee on hunting tapped a member who works for Giffords to represent shooting sports interests.
 
The U.S. Departments of the Interior and Agriculture late last Friday announced the 18 members of the new Hunting and Wildlife Conservation Council. Chartered earlier this year and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the committee is supposed to be composed of "subject matter experts that will provide recommendations to the federal government regarding policies that benefit wildlife and habitat conservation; expand fair-chase hunting, safe recreational shooting sports, and wildlife-associated recreation opportunities; and policies that benefit national and local economies."
 
Although the committee includes members drawn from groups like Delta Waterfowl, Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever, and the Mule Deer Foundation to represent the interests of hunting organizations, while members from the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua & Siuslaw Indians; and Hunters of Color flesh out the council, it is left to Ryan Busse alone to lend voice to matters of the shooting sports.
 
But who is Ryan Busse?
 
While incorrectly listed as "unaffiliated" in the press release from the Biden administration, it is well known that Busse is a senior advisor for the Giffords anti-gun group going back to at least last June. A former member of the firearms industry, Busse has since made a name for himself speaking against the industry that once employed him, penning a book ("Gunfight: My Battle Against the Industry that Radicalized America") on the matter and testifying in front of Congress against the evils of the AR-15 in the hands of "radicalized domestic terrorists." His outspoken criticism of some of the most popular guns in America – some 24 million ARs and similar rifles are estimated to be in circulation – and policies such as constitutional carry to left-of-center outlets such as the Daily Show and CNN has led to Busse being publicly disavowed by Kimber, one of the gunmakers by which he was formerly employed.
 
The inclusion of Busse to represent the shooting sports interests of a council that will weigh in on control of some one-fifth of the land in the U.S. – including hundreds of public shooting ranges – is therefore seen by some as going past just being ironic.
 
"The appointment of Ryan Busse to the Hunting and Wildlife Conservation Council, a federal advisory committee, is a farce and demonstrates the contempt the Biden administration holds for lawful gun owners who hunt on America’s public and private lands," Mark Oliva, public affairs director of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, told Guns.com.
 
It should be noted that the committee before the one in which Busse sits, the now-dissolved Trump administration's Hunting and Sport Shooting Conservation Council, included Larry Keane, NSSF's senior vice president for government and public affairs, as its shooting committee chair while such well-known and outspoken Second Amendment luminaries as Chris Cox from the NRA, six-time Olympian Kim Rhode, and outdoorswoman Eva Shockey were also members. While Giffords has not been known to fund anything in regards to strengthening the shooting sports, the NSSF at the time backed a $1 million initiative to grow the ranks of sportsmen and target shooters.
 
Oliva stressed the fact that Busse is the sole voice for shooting sports on the Biden committee, leaving some of the country's largest players in the outdoor game shutout.
 
"Glaringly absent, however, is any representative from the firearm and ammunition industry even though the industry is responsible for the vast majority of conservation funds through the Pittman-Robertson excise tax," explained Oliva, referring to the longstanding system of excise taxes levied on the sale of guns and ammo to consumers that is, in turn, sent to state wildlife agencies. Of those funds, typically 79 percent goes to fund wildlife restoration while 20 percent funds hunter education and public shooting ranges. Essentially, Pittman-Robertson makes every person that buys guns or ammo part of the "user-pays" chain that funds public conservation from coast to coast, even if they never set foot in the woods. Bought a bullet in Maine? You helped preserve wildlife habitats. Bought a shotgun in Montana? You helped fund a shooting range. It is that simple.
 
To illustrate the funding disparity between the tax on the gun industry – and by extension America's gun-buying public – against what the government coughs up, in 2022 alone the conservation funds apportioned to the states via Pittman-Robertson was $1.15 billion, which is almost twice the proposed 2023 budget ($597.9 million) for the entire 560-unit National Wildlife Refuge System.
 
"The Biden administration has politicized this advisory council to legitimize Busse and the far-left gun control policies he and the gun control group he represents," said Oliva. "This is a sham and doesn’t come close to representing the interests of lawful gun owners who hunt and are faithful stewards of the precious wildlife resources our nation enjoys."
 
The council is being stood up as the USFWS and its Department of Interior parent are pushing a slow-motion ban on the use of traditional ammo and the numbers of hunters in the field have fallen to historic lows.
 
Biden's Interior boss, Deb Haaland, was a progressive Democrat supporter of the Green New Deal while in Congress and a staunch advocate of gun control, including a proposed federal ban on "assault weapons." She was enthusiastic about the new council last week, saying, "I look forward to working with the Council as we advance efforts to expand access to the great outdoors, address climate change, and safeguard the wildlife and health of the natural systems that supply our food, water, and other resources. This kind of engagement is at the heart of the America the Beautiful initiative and the Biden-Harris administration’s broader conservation strategy."

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