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Illinois Gun Dealer Licensing Dead... For Now

Our own Jeremy S recently posted a review of Springfield Armory’s new XD-E pistol. As usual, he wrote a dispassionate and objective review, noting some issues with the new gun. The comments section, in contrast, had plenty of passion, yet little in the way of love for Springfield. Why all the hate? Simply put: gun buyers have long memories and no one has forgot Springfield Armory’s and Rock River’s self-serving carve out in the Illinois gun dealer licensing bill.

Not only did many readers  pledge to take a pass on the XD-E, but also the company as well. More polite than many, Garrison Hall’s comment summed up the feeling of many:

I am not inclined to purchase anything marketed by Springfield. A company that sinks to their level of crony capitalism doesn’t deserve the patronage of the people it betrays…

If you hadn’t heard, earlier this year Springfield and Rock River, through their then-lobbying organization, the Illinois Firearms Manufacturers Association (IFMA), traded their opposition for an Illinois gun dealer licensing bill (SB-1647) in exchange for a carve-out for themselves.  I fired a warning shot across the bow of the org the day before IFMA formally traded its opposition to the bill for an exemption. From there, we broke the news of the “deal”, and covered the aftermath, too.

In reaction to the self-serving deal-making, America’s gun owners gave the two companies both proverbial barrels.

Seeing their sales affected almost immediately, Springfield and Rock River went into damage control mode. Both companies (SAI, RRA) pulled out of IFMA. Springfield also released a slick marketing video, citing company president Dennis Reese receiving the “yellow jacket” award from the NRA and pledging to never sell out gun owners.


Illinois Gun Dealer Licensing Dead... For Now

In addition, Reese’s company wrote sizable checks to the NRA-ILA and the Illinois State Rifle Association to oppose the bill’s progress. Reese’s company also spent a ton of money on advertising to ask gun owners across Illinois – indeed the nation – to oppose the bill.

So, where does the Illinois gun dealer licensing bill stand today?

In short, it has become toxic enough to fence-sitting legislators that it’s effectively dead. Calls and emails from gun owners poured into Illinois House members. While gun control advocates tried to whip up gun grabbers nationwide to support the bill, they failed. In the end, Prairie State reps’ phones melted down with calls from angry gun owners. Some pols said the bill saw more public comment than any bill they’d seen in many years.

The problem is that most bills in Illinois resemble zombies — they can be reanimated in the dead of night under Illinois’ complex legislative rules. However, we don’t need votes to stop SB-1647. The bill’s proponents need sixty votes for passage in the House. Right now, though, one Illinois rep says publicly they have only 44 votes. My unofficial count of supporters is higher, but it might as well be a million miles and another solar eclipse away for Gabby Giffords and company.

Further complicating their efforts is that proponents can’t count on their votes. Many who have told sponsors they support the licensing bill privately say they plan to either vote against it or “become unavailable” to vote yes.

To further fight the bill, the ISRA has hired Ed Sullivan, a former long-time legislator, to lobby on gun owners’ behalf. Sullivan complements the efforts of Todd Vandermyde, the NRA-ILA’s contract lobbyist. I suspect Springfield Armory money allowed ISRA to hire Mr. Sullivan and it’s been money well spent.

Springfield has also retained the services of a lobbying firm to represent them in the Illinois General Assembly. Given the devastating fall-out from the IFMA fiasco, I don’t expect more future self-serving deal-making. At the same time, as one of the people lobbying in the capitol, I’ll keep an eye on them. As Smith & Wesson and Ruger before them have found, it will take a lot for Springfield Armory to regain gun owners’ trust.

But there’s been some other negative fallout from the kerfuffle. A couple of downstate communities have seriously flirted with enacting local gun dealer licensing ordinances. Guns Save Life helped beat back the proposal in Galesburg. The law of unintended consequences applies everywhere.

Meanwhile, gun owners aren’t the only ones carrying grudges. Just as TTAG could not get a XD-E for testing and evaluation from Springfield, Illinois gun rights group Guns Save Life has found itself conspicuously overlooked by Springfield in their support of Illinois gun rights orgs. It surely looks as though Springfield’s trying to punish the messengers for its own missteps.

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  1. Bet that sh_t comes back around, kinda like the orbit of a comet. Nobody puts that much work to just let it go.

    The original bill provided carve-outs for big box stores AND WHO ELSE? I would like to know who paid, and WHO GOT PAID, for those carve outs. It might be politics as usual, but by that yard stick, so is a firing squad.

    Again, as always, even if this is merely acquiescence to attempt to streamline some business to governmental relationship, this is ANOTHER liberal (D) problem.

  2. Now it’s time to put Springfield into the ground for good! They will have earned it!

    • Too funny.

      Also, thanks John for the update. The xd-e review had me wondering where we were on this. Now that the bill has been essentially zombified, can we move back onto taking silencers off the banned list?

  3. I loved the timing of yall’s xd-e review, for one it stuck toes in water to see and another to show that unbiased reviews are in order. As for Springfield/rra they had the thought to do this in the first place no amount of cleanup will wash away the fact that they had that mindset to begin with!

  4. Let’s not lose track of that paid IFMA lobbyist. He’s out there taking money from somebody for something.

  5. Well, 1 point for apparently helping defeat what they enabled in the first place.

    Minus points for every local community emboldened to even attempt the same.

    Minus even more points for not understanding that the change of heart must be complete, and spitting on those who showed them the error of their ways. When you spit on your teacher, the very ones who stopped you at the edge of a self-chosen cliff, you are not just dead, but dead again, as a zombie w/o brains or a vampire with a crucifix in its heart buried in a field of garlic.

    Rot in hades, jackasses. You had a second chance and blew it.

  6. Springfield and Rock River? I thought it was Springfield, Rock River AND Remington we were avoiding.

  7. “The problem is that most bills in Illinois resemble zombies — they can be reanimated in the dead of night under Illinois’ complex legislative rules.”

    Who controls the legislature?

    Sounds like it’s time for some new, fair rules…

    • The legislature is controlled by Mike Madigan. And constitutional attempts to re-write the rules tend to get stomped in court by the left-wing cronies that Madigan helped onto the bench.

      Illinois is an excellent example of how not to run a state.

  8. I agree. Let Springfield die. Somebody else will import the HS products. And somebody will crank up production of M14 type rifles to fill in the gap.

    Lots of companies make 1911s….

  9. Thanks Boch. This is one BIG reason I support TTAG. Now I have to dig up some dough for GSL and IRAssn. And buy more guns-that AREN’T Springfield…

  10. I hope one day someone has the opportunity to say close down that place and put Americans out of work,what comes around goes around.

    • Yeah, that’s probably the saddest thing about this whole fiasco; a lot of hard working people are going to be affected by decisions they had nothing to do with. Sure, some of them might find other jobs, but it’s not always as simple as that.

      • “…a lot of hard working people are going to be affected by decisions they had nothing to do with. Sure, some of them might find other jobs, but it’s not always as simple as that.”

        It is not the “job” of the marketplace to provide jobs for anyone. If “the marketplace” could be completely automated, it would continue to exist.

        Complaints about the unfeeling marketplace costing people jobs sounds awfully like the program of the Left. Capitalism thrives on constructive destruction. I don’t particularly like it, (got “displaced” five times during the “dot bomb” era) but the alternative is Europe, at best.

        On the whole, SA seems to have not noticed our ire. I imagine things will be a whole lot worse for SA employees when American Outdoors consumes SA.

          • Thank you. Glad to be of service.

            Being beaten for five consecutive years by Mistress Marketplace, I probably think on “creative destruction” a bit differently.

            I came to understand that my “mission” was not to be an employee, but to be a solution provider (vendor, supplier) for a prospective or current employer. That viewpoint resulted in taking on a cloak of personal business. That is, my employment was a result of “selling” my services to a buyer/client. If that client became unhappy with my service, or found a better proposition, that client had to make whichever decision prospered that business. Consequently, it became my responsibility to prosper my “business”.

            In turn, I evaluated employers as clients for my “business”. When the client (employer) became non-profitable, it was time to seek a new business opportunity.

            The overall result was to unshackle myself from the notion that I owed an employer loyalty because they did me a favor by hiring me. As it became obvious that employers would cut employees to raise quarterly earnings by a penny per share, so to it became obvious the employer did not consider I was owed anything because of my unflagging loyalty. At that point, the employer and I were on equal footing, as in, they retained my services until it was unprofitable, and I kept them as a client until it became unprofitable to my business. In all, a business-to-business relationship.

            Over time, it became a simple matter of understanding that my “business” had to be aware of market conditions effecting my “client”, to adapt quickly, or abandon the selling space before my business ended-up with no clients in the “high probable” category of potential sale. My business was making my business profitable, avoiding becoming an unwitting casualty of marketplace turmoil. The entire proposition was, “good day’s service for a good day’s pay”; nothing more. The business of my clients was to make money; my business was no different.

  11. Springfield and Rock River are both dead to me and my shop… them trying to “buy” their way back into the gun buyers good graces by throwing money into the NRA etc..and expecting forgiveness is an insult! They deserve to go belly up and this sends a warning to any other gun manufacturer that would put profit above the customer!

  12. To be honest, it sounds like Springfield tried to repair the damage, however it obviously comes across as self serving. Regardless as to whether Springfield was actively trying to sell out, or if they merely were a member of an organization (IFMA) that was trying to sell out, it’s SOMEBODY’s job at Springfield to join and maintain such memberships, as well as to voice their desires to the IFMA. That individual failed to get ahead of this and either
    A. Leave the IFMA prior to this error being made.
    B. Use their clout in the IFMA to prevent this from happening in the first place.

    I’m willing to let go, once Springfield holds their own employee(s) accountable for what happened. I refuse to believe that anything could get through the IFMA without Springfields approval considering their size… who gave the approval, and why aren’t they looking for a new job already?

    • C4… Springfield and Rock River were the sole members of this lobbying group and it was Springfield that was the major financial backer of it. Springfield was being self serving and clearly sold us out. The ones truly hurting because of this will be Springfield employees.. We gun and shop owners will continue on by buying and selling the loads of other fine firearms that are out there for us.

    • c4v3man, that’s all a bit hard to swallow when there were only 4 people in the IFMA since like 2013. One was Dennis Reese, CEO of Springfield, one was Tom Reese, his brother and co-CEO for many years, one was Chuck Larson, CEO of Rock River (who was often treasurer of the IFMA…the guy who signs the checks, presumably), and one was their hired lobbyist, Keller. That’s it. There were no random “employees” doing this in their spare time. SA and RRA regularly cut very large checks to IFMA and their CEOs ran it directly. For many years on end they were sending money to the Democrat Victory Fund and to specific politicians, primarily anti-gun democrats. It wasn’t a one-time thing. Every year’s tax record that TTAG posted or people linked to in comments on all the articles showed these political donations going back to 2012 or earlier.

      • ” For many years on end they were sending money to the Democrat Victory Fund”

        Like paying a blackmailer.

  13. When the news broke about this. I was just about to fork over money at Budsgunshop for a really nice M1A. I decided that I would purchase two other firearms instead. I am sure Ruger and Mossberg would send SAI a thank you letter for the business 😎

  14. I still don’t understand why TTAG would even consider reviewing Springfield or RRA firearms until a new owner or CEO is named. It was the current owner and/CEO that approved the original lobbying and payouts to harm Illinois FFLs and shooters. (S&W caved to political pressure and Bill Ruger was trying to save guns by offering a limited mag capacity rather than have seminauto guns banned completely.)

    • It is fair reporting. I read the review, and it sounds like a nice gun for concealed carry.
      Too bad its a springfield.

    • TTAG, wisely, does not tell us who to do business with. They report, we decide. May it ever be thus.

    • Because it isn’t our job to tell you to care about what SA & RRA did, let alone force it on you by censoring them. We reported everything we could verify, but never called for a boycott or otherwise told you what to do with the information. That’s up to you. You have your own money and you’re allowed to make your own decisions.

    • “. . . Bill Ruger was trying to save guns by offering a limited mag capacity rather than have seminauto guns banned completely. . .”

      It’s a bit more sordid than that. The history is (or was) available. Ruger was trying to save HIS “little rifle”.

  15. The Springfield Professional fanboys don’t want to see SA go under, or maybe they would because it would increase the value of their SA Pros.

  16. Frankly, for all the ranting and raving, I’ve seen no dip in the prices Springfields are selling for in the market. Rather, they are steady as a rock.

    And yeah, I’d buy another. One, my first gun was an XD, and it was a winner. Springfield is till selling them in California, although there are multiple newer models. Second, I want one of their Milspec 1911s, which are far less expensive and likely far better than any of the originals. Third, Springfield is one of the few companies that still sells semiauto handguns in California (glock is also selling many models, but they are all Austrian made, and thus more $). Ruger is down to one .380, all the rest are revolvers, Colt is history, Bersa one gun, Taurus revolvers only, FN 5 guns (plus various finishes of these five), H&K a few more. We can have high end 1911s galore, but guns under $1000 are getting rarer by the day. Now, I am not saying that any of these companies is in any way responsible for the current situation here, but the fact remains that they are gone.

  17. Maybe some of the incensed commenters above me will get their wish and both companies will go belly-up.

    Thousands of people will be out of work, and there will be two less gun companies competing in the marketplace. Bloomybucks, Shannon and Gabby will skype with Feinstein and Schumer and they’ll have a big victory party! Destroying the American firearms industry, one company at a time!

    Yeah! That’ll show ’em!

    • “Yeah! That’ll show ’em!”

      The alternative being, “Wink, wink, nod, nod, chuckle. Ya’ll jes got caught screwing gun owners, but now byegones is byegones. Run along now, and don’t be joshin’ like that no more.” ?

      • I hope that’s not the only alternative. I hope there’s a reasonable middle ground, and a way to punish Springfield’s owners without punishing its employees and destroying a company that, as far as I can tell, makes some pretty good guns.

    • There are too many makers now! One will not be missed. They will sell the patents with the company and life will go on. Are you union or just liberal? That is life, get over it!

  18. Eff ’em. They’re both dead to me and everyone I know who asks about it gets the full story too.

  19. Springfield Armory is about to get bought out by American Outdoor Brands.

    All will be ok. Life is good.

    Protest over.

  20. I was hoping the bottom would drop out and I could get an M1A for cheap. But it hasn’t. What SA should do is have a “We’re sorry” sale and donate most of the proceeds to defeating RINOs in the midterm primaries, and other swing state elections. Helping us win some political battles will go ALONG way.

  21. You “don’t expect more self – serving deal – making”? I may have been born at night, but it wasn’t last night; aren’t your expectations of a political nature a bit naive? Did you happen to believe ole Bill Clinton when he said he “did not have sex with that woman”?

  22. Please…

    Yeah you outed Springfield and Rick River but ran away like chickens and never followed up on them. Dissapinting

      • I mean you all did a great job disclosing what happened with the lobbying efforts but after the ‘statements’ from both companies you guys kinda dropped the ball by not following up with who did what exactly. There was much more to the story.

    • “gun companies rely mostly on civilian sales so why would you want to piss off the very people you need?”

      Colt proved you can’t stay afloat on government contracts alone. So…..why should gun companies piss off the very people they need….customers?

      If Springfield goes out of business because they betray customers, the assets will be bought by someone, the jobs might even be transferred.

      Without the discipline of the marketplace, you leave manufacturers to treat you however they wish, just so they can begger their competition.

  23. Everyone seems to ignore that this was also a gun rationing bill
    It only allowed state residents to buy/sell 9 guns per year
    That includes rifles as well as pistols
    That is what makes me mad
    Even California only limits its’ citizens to one handgun per month
    Where did they come up with the number 9?
    Why not 6? Or 1?
    This is what we should be opposing
    Rationing sales of a legal product

    • I don’t think anyone ignored that part Doc. It was just being handled as an overall Big Picture thing. Folks are pissed that Springfield and Rock River did what they did in the first place. The entire bill has been discussed at length on YouTube and most every other social media sources and I’ve always noticed that the “rationing” portion was mentioned.

  24. thank you RF for your original reporting on SA’s assholishness. That same week, I promptly took my SA 9mm XDS & mags to my local gunstore, put it on consignment sale and bought a Glock 19 to replace it.

    Then I went to a gunshow and bought a bunch of 17 round and 33 round Glock mags….which work in both my Glock 19 and my Keltec Sub2000. Yay!

    • … So you took a couple of perfectly good guns that Springfield has already been paid for, and you sold them, presumably at a loss, and bought gun made in Austria. Or maybe Georgia.

      And that will punish Springfield Armory!

      … or something.

      • 1. He will no longer be seen as an advertisement for SA firearms.May discourage other buyers from buying SA.
        2. SA lost the sale of a new gun when he sold his used.
        3. He will no longer buy SA firearms. Loss of $???..

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