As you probably know, the lobbying arm of Springfield Armory and Rock River Arms recently cut a deal with Illinois Senator Don Harmon to exclude the gunmakers from a licensing scheme. As a result, SB 1657 passed the Illinois State Senate and is headed to the House. It’s a horrible bill that includes onerous licensing for FFL’s and a nine transfer limit for Land of Lincoln gun owners.
TTAG exposed the carve-out, unleashing a firestorm of criticism. Days after the news broke, Springfield and Rock River issued public statements denying any knowledge of the deal. By implication, they were saying that their lobbyist, Jay Keller, had gone rogue.
The gunmakers’ mea culpas are seriously lacking in the credibility department.
Mr. Keller’s paymaster, The Illinois Firearms Manufacturers Association (IFMA),
is was wholly owned and controlled by Springfield Armory and Rock River. IFMA’s IRS form 990 lists four Directors: Dennis Reese, (CEO of SA), Tom Reese, (Co-chairman of the Board of SA), Chuck Larson, (Co-Owner of RRA ) and Jay Keller, (paid lobbyist).
The idea that Mr. Keller would act without the two manufacturers’ direct knowledge and supervision in a matter than directly affects their business beggars belief. If nothing else, our reporter John Boch called both gunmakers before the bill’s passage.
The fact that IFMA paid tens of thousands of dollars to rabidly anti-gun Illinois Democrats over the last five years may not be directly relevant to SB 1657 but . . . what? Why did the two companies line the pockets of the sworn enemies of firearms freedom? What did Springfield and Rock River Arms expect to receive in return?
Neither Springfield nor Rock River have addressed this aspect of IFMA’s past. It’s nothing less than delusional to think they didn’t know about those payments.
In any case, Springfield Armory has now launched a major campaign to defeat SB1657 — the bill that would’ve died without their support. And I do mean major: ads all over the Internet (including TTAG), email blasts and coordination with the NRA-ILA.
Why wouldn’t they? If this licensing and transfer limitation bill becomes law, both Springfield and Rock River will be justifiably crucified by small gun dealers and Illinois gun owners. They will face an even greater danger of financial ruin.
Which is also true even if it isn’t passed. Illinois Dems could simply table the bill. If so, it can be brought to the floor any time in the next 18 months. Not to put too fine a point on it, HB 1657 is both a direct threat and a cancer on the body politic.
This may come as a surprise but I, for one, am willing to forgive Springfield Armory and Rock River Arms for selling Illinois gun dealers and owners down the river. You heard me. I see no reason not to let bygones be bygones, in the certainty that they’ve learned their lesson. A lesson rightly and powerfully delivered by The People of the Gun.
This does not mean I will purchase Springfield Armory or Rock River Arms products. I see no reason to give my money to gunmakers run by the same people who thought this carve-out was a good idea — for them. And I will make sure that my friends and fellow influencers know what the two companies did to undermine gun rights.
All that said, there’s one extremely important lesson we should take away from this debacle.
No one can be trusted to defend and extend our gun rights. Not gunmakers, not politicians (Democrat or Republican), not journalists, not the gun rights groups that claim to represent us. Forget ‘trust but verify.’ Don’t trust and verify. That’s how TTAG rolls. It’s how all gun owners should think.
The recriminations can, will and should continue. But our more important enemies are those members of the Illinois legislature who created and support SB 1657.
Let me be clear: Illinois Senate Bill 1657 is a direct and pernicious attack on Americans’ natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. Now is the time for all gun owning citizens of that state to let their elected representatives know their opposition.
And now is the time for gun owners to realize — if they haven’t already — that the fight for firearms freedom is a never-ending battle against those who would sacrifice that freedom on the altar of economic and political gain. This isn’t over because it’s never over.