Kimber firearms emailed a statement Wednesday in which the company voiced support for Montanans’ right “to keep and bear arms” while also distancing itself from commentary made by the company’s former vice president.
The staking out of positions in Montana at this time is important because of House Bill 102, a piece of legislation designed to abolish many of Montana’s state-mandated gun-free zones. HB102 will also expand permitless carry in the state.
Breitbart News reported HB102 on January 13, 2021, noting that the Montana university system is one of the places where state-mandated gun-free zones will be done away with if the bill becomes law. This would make Montana the 12th state with campus carry, opening the door for a legal framework by which law-abiding citizens could be armed on campus for self-defense.
The 11 states that already have campus carry are Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin. (NOTE: The Tennessee law applies to university employees, not students.)
The adoption of HB102 would also bring Montana in line with 16 other states which have permitless carry. This allows law-abiding citizens to carry a gun on their person for self-defense without first going through some state-mandated process and paying fees to obtain a permit. The 16 states that already have permitless carry are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
The Missoula Current notes that HB102 has already passed the Montana House and is now being considered by the state’s senate. HB102’s sponsor, State Rep. Seth Berglee (R), introduced the bill to state senators by saying, “Anywhere a criminal has the ability to be armed, I think a law abiding citizen should have the right to be armed.”
The Great Falls Tribune notes that legislation similar to HB102 passed the legislature previously but was vetoed by former Gov. Steve Bullock (D). Another attempt to secure such legislation failed to get out of the legislature. But Montana now has Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte and a Republican-controlled legislature. And as of now, HB102 appears to have the momentum.
Enter former Kimber Vice President Ryan Busse, who is opposed to HB 102 and who used a January 25, 2021, op-ed to voice that opposition.
The Missoulian published Busse’s comments, which included him writing against permitless carry in general and zeroing in on permitless carry “on college campuses and in bars” in specific.
He wrote, “Montana boasts of a wonderful common sense and deep down all of us know that protecting our rights also means avoiding extremist policies that only increase the likelihood of bloodshed. Montana House Bill 102 will not make us safer. It is not a pro-gun bill. It is an anti-responsibility bill.”
The argument Busse makes about the “likelihood of bloodshed” and “anti-responsibility” have been made in similar ways in various states each time permitless carry has been on the cusp of passage. But reality has painted quite a different story.
For example, on June 7, 2017, Breitbart News reported FBI figures showing that handgun murders actually declined in Alaska, Arizona, and Wyoming, after those three states did away with their concealed carry permit requirement.
When Kimber firearms learned of their former VP’s op-ed, they made sure to distance themselves from his words and reaffirm the company’s commitment to Montanans’ right “to keep and bear arms.”
Kimber released a statement:
Kimber Mfg., Inc. has recently been made aware of opinion articles published respectively in the Sidney Herald (Sidney, Montana) entitled “Being Pro-Gun Also Means Being Pro-Responsibility” and in the Missoulian (Missoula, Montana) entitled “Being Pro-Gun Also Means Being Pro-Responsibility: We must oppose HB102”. The author of this article, Ryan Busse, is no longer an employee of Kimber and has not worked for Kimber since August of 2020. His statements and opinions expressed regarding the opposition of Montana House Bill 102 are not authorized by or attributable to Kimber.
“Kimber is a proud supporter of our Constitutional rights to keep and bear arms,” said Leslie Edelman, CEO and owner of Kimber. “We support organizations that defend these rights, and we are committed to providing the people of this great nation with the finest premium firearms available.”
AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him at email@example.com. You can sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange.