Springfield Armory, Rock River Arms And The Illinois Firearms Manufacturers Association Licensing Scheme

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 9 months ago

Via Codrea, I learned about the recent IFMA FFL and firearms manufacturers licensing scheme, which basically does the following.

Earlier today, the Illinois State Senate passed bill SB-1657 by a one-vote margin. While its prospects are still unsure in the House, if signed by Governor Bruce Rauner, the new law will mandate state licensing for all Illinois gun dealers. It will also restrict all others in Illinois to nine firearm transfers per year.

The lobbyist for the Illinois FirearmsManufacturers Association (IFMA), Jay Keller, traded that group’s opposition to the bill in exchange for a carve-out, removing Prairie State firearms manufacturers from the licensing requirements.

Two companies provide the bulk of the funding for IFMA: Springfield Armory and Rock River Arms.

To be clear, the original version of SB-1657 did not exempt manufacturers from the licensing regulations. At the time, Jay Keller and IFMA opposed it.

At a March Senate hearing, however, Keller stated that IFMA would drop its opposition to SB-1657 and go neutral if legislators gave the state’s gun makers a pass. State Senator Don Harmon delivered on his end of the deal with an amendment exempting big box stores and manufacturers from this scheme.

With that amendment, IFMA dropped its opposition to the bill,going neutral on the witness slip. That serves as a very public position on a bill in Illinois politics.

Perhaps this is the whole story.  Or perhaps not.  From here it gets really confusing, with the Springfield Armory statement as follows.

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.

Rock River Arms has responded thusly (so far).

RRA Moderator
Posted: Yesterday 4:38:04 PM EDT [Last Edit: Yesterday 4:43:02 PM EDT by RRAMODERATOR] RRA’s owner is at NRAAM in Atlanta, where he is meeting with a number of people about this. While many of the necessary people are in Atlanta, some are not which is complicating things. RRA has been opposed to this bill (and earlier bills prior to it for more than a decade) and is still in 100% opposition to it. Both our exemption and the change in our lobbyist’s position from “opposed” to “no position” were surprises to us. We found out after many of you, and have been trying to make sense of it since. A statement will be forthcoming as soon as it is possible to make one that is accurate and complete. It may still come out today. Thank you all for your consideration and to the many who have been willing to give us the benefit of the doubt. Steve/RRA

Perhaps the lobbyist for the IFMA acted on his own.  Or perhaps not.  We need to know the truth about this, as customers and their loyalty, and the health of two very good companies, and the lives of their workers, hang in the balance.

Look, I’ve got it.  Every company worries over things like a well-trained work force, retention of good employees, and forcing workers to relocate to far-away states which are much more gun friendly, leaving behind extended family, perhaps some with dependent care issues.  This is an absolutely sordid situation to be faced with.

On the other hand, some companies have relocated, such as Magpul and Remington.  Customers have rewarded Magpul, and the Remington plant in Alabama is reported to be doing very well.  Customers punished Smith & Wesson for their fornication with Bill Clinton and the gun controllers years ago, and with the situation as it is today, if this occurred again I seriously doubt Smith & Wesson would recover as it has.

Ruger makes fine revolvers and so we don’t need S&W if they were to go out of business, everyone makes a polymer pistol (so the M&P isn’t an absolute necessity), and many more manufacturers are making 1911s (although buyer beware, it’s much harder to make a quality 1911 than a plastic double stack gun).  There are too many AR-15 manufacturers to count now, with quality makers such as Daniel Defense, LaRue Tactical, Knight’s Armament, and Head Down.

I am a huge fan of RRA as readers know.  But if RRA and Springfield Armory were complicit in passing this legislation, they will suffer from it.  RRA distributors will stop asking for delivery and prices will plummet, although I expect RRA to survive.  If Springfield participated in support of this bill (or lack of opposition to it), I expect them to fold their tents.  They will not survive.  They don’t make anything unique enough to survive in the face of the competition.

I hate this for both RRA and Springfield, but you just simply cannot jump in bed with the controllers and be forgiven by the customers.  Gun owners won’t tolerate it – if you doubt what I’m saying, read the comments to this reddit/r/firearms thread.  If there is more to this story than we see, RRA and Springfield need to come clean and address the issues forthrightly – immediately.

UPDATE from RRA concerning IFMA.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks


  1. On May 2, 2017 at 5:46 am, Sum Dude said:

    Thank you for posting this. I’ve been following this issue on ar15.com:


  2. On May 2, 2017 at 8:15 am, John Q. Shooter said:

    The Board of Directors for IFMA is:

    Dennis Reese (Springfield) – Director
    Tom Reese (Springfield) – Director
    Jay Keller – Executive Director (only paid IFMA employee)
    Chuck Larson (RRA) – Director

    SA/RRA created this. They knew what was happening the whole time. They hoped they wouldn’t get caught.

  3. On May 2, 2017 at 8:37 am, Fred said:

    This is the exact type of legislation that the Commerce Clause was designed to outlaw, what is effectively a tariff on out of state imports or restrictions on non-preferred companies. How appropriate that it’s the ‘land of Lincoln. Anyway, that ship sailed in 1860 (Fuck Lincoln).

    There are already calls for boycotts on both companies all over social media. They will be hurt by this in the short term even if they can turn their positions.

    For a company to even consider getting into bed with the Illinois legislature makes me question their judgement. And if it was some lower employee, so what, who hired them to handle this. Bad judgement.

    All of the ‘pro’ gun lobbying orgs have baggage. Never offer your blanket trust to them. Always verify the individual legislation or initiative they promote before backing it.

  4. On May 2, 2017 at 8:45 am, Col. Douglas Mortimer said:

    I’ve been following this story since last Friday, and both companies are getting hammered on social media, you tube and by emails and phone calls. Rightly so. These 2 most recent statements came one on top of the other yesterday in rapid succession.

    As far as Dennis Reese’s statement about what he said on Friday, “At the time of my initial statement to the media, I was ill-informed”, finally something honest. Ill-informed? It’s your lobbyist bub! Maybe what they need to do is take the lobbyist into a backroom for some wall to wall counseling. This is the mess they created and now they have to live with the consequences. Both companies are non-existent to me. They are on the ash heap of forever with CTD, Dicks Sporting Goods, Troy and H&S Precision.

  5. On May 2, 2017 at 10:39 am, Jack Crabb said:

    This crap is right out of Tom Baugh’s classic “Starving the Monkeys”. When companies get large enough they want the protection of .gov. They lobby for laws that limit entry to their industry and want to codify everything, so they – the large, established company – have all the “legal” advantages.

    From the evidence so far, it appears that Springfield and RRA are huge monkeys. If true: Fuck them.

  6. On May 2, 2017 at 11:19 am, Col. Douglas Mortimer said:

    On Bob Owens website, he is claiming that they didn’t “sell out”, but Jay Keller and IFMA is “their guy” when it comes to RRA and Springfield.

    According to John Boch, Springfield and RRA have made campaign donations to anti-gun politicians.

  7. On May 2, 2017 at 1:12 pm, Jack Crabb said:

    Bob Owens is nothing more than a right-leaning statist copsucker. I refuse to go to his website, and even question using him as a source – other than the stopped clock/blind squirrel theory.

  8. On May 2, 2017 at 2:11 pm, Fred said:

    Owens engages in Police Worship, elevating them above their fellow man and the law and equating them with gods.

  9. On May 2, 2017 at 12:48 pm, Josh said:

    This really is a damn shame. RRA and Springfield Armory are my two favorite manufacturers. In fact, every firearm I own save a cheap shotgun and my wife’s Head Down Triton are made by one of these two companies.

    Are you listening, RRA? Springfield? My next weapon purchases was going to be a SA 1911 and a RRA LAR-8. Not anymore.

    Are you listening?

  10. On May 10, 2017 at 1:30 pm, henry white said:

    there are only 2 manufacturing companies in the il. gun manufacturing ass.their lobby guys will cost them dearly!!word of mouth and e mails will follow!! any time a gun manufacture messes with the second amendment,we the public will be there!!

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This article is filed under the category(s) Firearms,Guns and was published May 1st, 2017 by Herschel Smith.

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