IL Gun Manufacturers Respond to Trade Group’s Reversal on Gun Bill

Springfield Armory, Rock River Arms:  “100% against this bill” – We didn’t know we would be exempt from burdensome regulation initially opposed by manufacturers association

IllinoisAfter helping fund a trade group who traded opposition to a proposed piece of state legislation that NRA-ILA sayscreates an onerous gun dealer licensing scheme within the state” whose “intention is to close as many federally licensed firearm dealers (FFLs) as possible” for special exemptions, two Illinois firearm manufacturers are claiming ignorance of their trade association’s actions on the bill.

Illinois SB1657, passed through the Senate by a one-vote margin, would require already licensed firearms dealers to participate in a separate state licensing scheme on top of the strictly regulated licensing system in place through the Federal government.  The bill exempts individuals who are involved in transfers of nine or fewer firearms per year, beyond which they would be subject to the requirements.  In addition to a pre-licensing inspection by Illinois’s Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR), the bill also opens licensees to unannounced visits and inspections by the state entity.  

The bill was initially opposed by the Illinois Firearms Manufacturers Association (IMFA), which appears to receive the bulk of its funding from IL firearms companies Rock River Arms and Springfield Armory.  The lobbying group, however, dropped its opposition to the bill in exchange for an amendment that would exempt manufacturers (and large retailers with less than 20% of sales coming from firearms), leaving standalone gun stores, independent FFLs, and enthusiasts who participate in 10 or more transfers in a year subject to the new regulations and licensing burden.

Although the pre-amendment bill without the manufacturer carve-out was opposed by IMFA, it was supported by IMFA campaign contribution recipient Sen. Michael Hastings (D-19) in the Judiciary Committee where it passed on a 7-5 vote.  The the bill, which is still has organizational opposition from the likes of the Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA), Guns Save Life, and the IDFPR itself, has now been referred to the House rules committee consisting of three Democrat lawmakers and two Republicans.

Following great backlash from Second Amendment supporters for “selling out” and “making a deal with the devil” – including hundreds of negative Facebook reviews and comments which have now been scrubbed – both Springfield Armory and Rock River Arms have issued statements claiming that they did not intend to receive special treatment through compromise on the gun control bill and are “100% opposed” to it.

Springfield Armory’s statement:

Springfield Armory has always fought hand-in-hand with the NRA, NSSF, ISRA and many others for legislation that fiercely protects the Second Amendment, individual rights and the industry as a whole. Our fight continues today as some members of the Illinois legislature are pushing to overregulate the industry through Gun Dealer Licensing Act (SB1657).

“At the time of my initial statement to the media, I was ill-informed of the ramifications of this bill and its detrimental effects to the Second Amendment, which I have personally fought to protect my entire life. I can tell you now, we at Springfield Armory are unequivocally 100 percent against this bill and will continue to work with the NRA and others to ensure that it is defeated,” said Dennis Reese, Chief Executive Officer, Springfield Armory.

Springfield Armory, like Rock River Arms, was not aware of the actions taken by our trade association, IFMA, until after the fact. We take this situation very seriously and are looking into how this very unfortunate lapse in communication occurred.

Springfield Armory has fought and defeated legislation like this in Illinois for the past 15 years. We are wholeheartedly against this bill and will fight to see it defeated as the unnecessary and harmful overreach that it is.

Stefany Reese, PR & Communications Manager
Springfield Armory, Inc.

Rock River Arms’s statement:

Rock River Arms, Inc. (RRA) wants to assure the Illinois (and national) firearms community that we are still 100 percent opposed to the Gun Dealer Licensing Act – SB1657, the house version of the same bill, and any potential final legislation that may come from those bills along with any other infringements on the gun rights of law-abiding citizens everywhere.

For more than twenty years, Rock River Arms and Springfield Armory have actively opposed gun control legislation at the local, state, and federal levels. In 2009, we partnered with other manufacturers to form an organization geared towards representing our interests – The Illinois Firearms Manufacturers Association (IFMA). Historically, that organization has done well in representing us in Springfield, Illinois. We had no reason to believe that it was doing anything beyond representing the firearms community’s (Illinois firearms manufacturers, dealers and gun owners) best interests, keeping us well-informed on relevant legislation and issues, acting on our behalf. In the case of SB1657, there was a disconnect and that representation was misguided.

While we do believe that IFMA acted in what it felt was the best interests of its members, we were as shocked as everyone else to find ourselves exempted from provisions of SB1657 and that IFMA was no longer opposing that bill, even though RRA still opposed it.

Again, Rock River Arms wants to emphasize (regardless of anything that may have been said or done, mistakenly or otherwise, by any other party on our behalf) its continued total opposition to SB1657, the Illinois House version of the bill and any final legislation that may emerge. This includes any provisions found in Gun Dealer Licensing Act SB1657, along with any other threats that may infringe upon our gun rights.

If you have any further questions or require more information about our position, please contact: Sarah Larson, General Manager or Steve Mayer, LE, Government, and International Sales Manager at 309-792-5780.

Thank you.
Chuck Larson
Rock River Arms, Inc.

Despite the claims that both manufacturers are totally against the bill, many find it odd that these statements were made only after the companies were exempted from the requirements, and that both companies appear to still be involved with the lobbying group that rescinded their opposition to a bill that they claim goes against everything they stand for.

Discuss the entire Springfield/RRA situation on the GunLink Forums.

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