Postedted online: February 26, 2006 12:24 AM
Print publication date: February 26, 2006
Sights set on local gun manufacturers
By Stephen Elliott, email@example.com
Henry County is known by many as the Gun Valley of Illinois.
However, that could change if a bill making its way through the Illinois House of Representatives becomes law.
HB2414, sponsored by Rep. Edward Acevedo, D-Chicago, would make it illegal to manufacture, possess or deliver semi-automatic assault weapons, assault-weapon attachments, .50-caliber rifles and .50-caliber cartridges.
Last session, a similar bill sponsored by Rep. Acevedo fell three votes short of passage in the Illinois House.
If this one passes, it could affect five Quad-Cities area firearms manufacturers, three of them in Henry County -- Springfield Armory and ArmaLite Inc., both of Geneseo; Rock River Arms, Colona; Les Baer Custom, Hillsdale; and Lewis Machine and Tool Co., Milan.
It could mean the loss of several hundred jobs, and work for some area subcontractors. For companies such as Springfield Armory, which has 165 full-time employees, and ArmaLite, which has 85 employees, it also could mean a move to another state.
ArmaLite, which makes a .50-caliber rifle, gets much of its business from collectors, competitive target shooters, government agencies and the military, owner Mark Westrom said.
"The word is out on Illinois" about the bill, Mr. Westrom said. "We're getting letters of interest from South Dakota, Arkansas, Oklahoma. They're inviting us to come to their state."
Mr. Westrom said the .50-caliber models ArmaLike makes sell for about $3,000 and are a "long-range target gun. It's not something you manhandle around and use in a crime.
"Could it be misused? Heavens, a kitchen knife is misused far, far more. The .50-caliber is big, and most are very ugly. Their sin is they are the biggest that are allowed."
He said the nearly 5-foot long rifle is loud and weighs 34 pounds without accessories. "It's not something anyone is misusing in a car or a truck."
Mr. Westrom believes HB2414 is a feel-good measure for politicians, particularly those from Chicago and its suburbs.
Sen. Todd Sieben, R-Geneseo, opposes the bill, but says it's coming up in an election year, which may have an impact. "Generally speaking, gun-control bills have not passed the senate. Some bills are in districts where gun control is important for re-election."
National Rifle Association spokesman Todd Vandermyde said the bill would prohibit virtually everything ArmaLite makes and a third to a half of the production line that comes out of Springfield Armory.
He said it also would take a good chunk of business from Les Baer, Rock River Arms and Lewis Machine and Tool. "The bill makes it a crime for replacement parts. "Basically, you've got to look at every single gun and make a determination (what's legal)."
Rebecca Rausch, spokeswoman for Gov. Rod Blagojevich, said she couldn't comment on the potential job loss if the bill passed, but she did say the governor believes the bill is a way to make streets safer.
"The .50-caliber rifle is something the governor believes should be banned," she said. "It's one of the most destructive weapons available to the public. The governor is concerned with taking these weapons off the street."
Rep. Acevedo said, if the bill, which has been amended eight times, is enacted, gun manufacturers would have to adapt and make different weapons.
"I'm sure they are going to continue manufacturing different sorts of weapons," he said. "How did they survive when the ban was in effect on the federal level?"
As far as losing jobs, Rep. Acevedo said, "Did they ever hire more when the federal ban was not reinstated? So, as far as losing jobs or employment, I don't think it's affected one way or another."
Mr. Westrom said there wasn't a ban on the manufacture of .50-caliber rifles during the federal ban enacted by Congress in 1994. When that ban ran out 10 years later, it wasn't reinstated.
Mr. Vandermyde said there are major differences between the federal ban and Illinois bill. For instance, having two or more military-style features, like a pistol grip or a flash suppresor, on a firearm would be illegal under the federal ban, but the Illinois law would prohibit any features.
Springfield Armory co-owner Dennis Reese said the federal ban forced his company to modify its guns to be different from what they are now. "It was problematic for us, because people wanted the original-looking rifles."
Mr. Reese and Mr. Westrom said they've added employees since the federal ban was lifted. Mr. Reese said a state ban would put his products at a competitive disadvantage with gun manufacturers around the country who might have larger magazine capacities and other items prohibited in Illinois.
Illinois House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago, believes HB2414 picks up where the federal ban left off. As for job loss in Henry County, Rep. Currie said, "Yes, I'm in favor of jobs. I don't know if I'm in favor of jobs if it's all about doing things to kill people. The balance comes down on the side of safety."
Mr. Vandermyde said the Illinois bill is much more prohibitive than the federal ban.
"The politicians that say they are the same are either woefully stupid or intentionally lying."
I can't believe that these legislators are so incompetent. They don't even know what assault weapons are, and they apparently think that they were all banned from manufacture during the 1994-2004 "Ban". They don't even apparently want to hear the other side or spend any time to research what their bill is even about. The scary part is, that if they don't know what's going on in the state as far as guns, and refuse to learn, what other issues important to the states' residents, are they ignorant about, but don't want to do any research on before they sign on as a co-sponsor or vote on a bill about those issues.
That is the problem with our two party system. They don't care. Gun control is a partisan issue! It doesn't matter now if it's a logical bill or not, rank and file members of the party are going to follow their party platform and that is it. The Democrats do not believe that the 2nd amendment applies to individuals, plain and simple.
That's not to say that EVERY member will vote with their party, but close enough that you can count on it. Look at Wisconsin's CCW bill. Their loss of veto override was simply partisan politics at work. Nobody cared that CCW would make the streets safer. The dems that flip-flopped did so not out of logical thinking, but due to pressure from their political party for doing so.
While people that hug the center might get elected, alienating your base is a sure way to get voted out of office.
We can write our reps all we want, but ultimately, it's their party affiliation that is going to detirmine how they vote.
This is why I'm moving. These people aren't going to stop until there aren't any guns left in the hands of law abiding citizens. I'm going to take my ass, and my tax dollars to a state where they're more appreciated. It's a shame because there are some great places to live here, great people here on this very forum, and I've lived here my whole life. As patriot73 has said, "[American] Liberalism is a mental disease." It's the truth.
I think it comes down to geography in Illinois more than party, but I agree with just about everything you said.
I'm in the middle of a job search right now, as soon as I find what I want, I'm outta here. I don't know if it'll be two weeks or two months, but the sooner the better.
Even if 2414 doesn't pass, Acevado will write another one next year, and the year after that, and the year after that...
and i am stuck here ... i really have no options for the next 13 years..
my daughter is a newly diagnosed diabetic and i CANNOT lose my insurance....
iam a professional firefighter and to old to start retesting...
bah this really blows..
we just have to kill this and every other ban that comes along..
vote firearm friendly reps in also..
nothing worth fighting for is ever been easy...
I ABSOLUTELY, 100% AGREE WITH YOU.
I am, however, leaving as soon as I get the chance.
Dont forget about DSA. This lovely bit of legislation would shut those good folks down as well.
Last week I was contacted by an employer in Rockford and asked if I was interested in moving from Minnesota to Rockford. I immediatley went to the Hometown forums to see what the Illinois people had to say about illinois. I was shocked! I had no idea. Our big battle here in MN recently was getting our CCW passed. I thought our legislature was full of commies.....
I feel bad for you guys.
I guess we all need to be aware of what is going on in other states. Our state could be next.
IF I accept the position I plan on living in Wisconsin and commuting to Rockford.
i wish i could leave ..
and not just cause of the polotical enviorment..
i grew up in virgina and really miss the south.
ive been here for 24 yrs and just dont really like it any more..
come on mega million !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I was already planning to leave this year. My wife is already down in Texas, she has a job already lined up, but I need to wait until the end of the school year.
Some of the main reasons we decided to leave Illinios: (rant warning)
The FOID law
Chicago Public Schools
Possible assault weapons ban
The price of gasoline
Cook County President
Thank you Chicago. You recruited me to come to your shining city, and I stayed and worked to educate your damn future criminals in a westside public school, and you didn't even try to give me tenure. Kiss my hairy white ass! I'm not staying in this City, County, or State!!! (rant off)
If you are in Arlington soon, drop a note. Hopefully I'll find a nice shooting range in the DFW area!
I know if I was single and the bill was to pass. I would move in a heart beat. As it is, I hope to remain married and it would be difficult at best to move. The wife will soon be a grandmother again......Lord willing...and this time she'll be able to be around these grandkids. Her other grandkid...her youngest son has kept her from being around the child. His wife whip him into less of a man and he listens too his wife. But that's another story.
I wanted to move way out of the state, like back to Arizona before I married. Even to Florida were the wife and I winter over back in 97. The wife really like Floridia, but since the last 2 years worth of hurricanes, I have better luck seeing pigs fly before she would move there again.
...well there's always Indiana, just 45 minutes from where we live now and tack on another 15 to her daughters house.
Edit for addition comments.
The only way that this bill is going to go away....and it never really will. Is too get new people in office election time so they are out number. Then perhaps these bills won't even make it out of committee.
You're pointing out the reality that Democrats in office yield more gun control, and you're quoting patriot73.
What's next--voting Republican? <shudder>
I hate Illinois. When my kids are grown, I'm going to Dixie.