Illinois-Based Manufacturers React To Gun Ban Controversy - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Illinois-Based Manufacturers React To Gun Ban Controversy

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Local semi-automatic rifle manufacturers are reacting to the controversy surrounding their trade, saying hundreds of jobs are at stake if Illinois companies are banned from selling assault rifles.

One week after the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings, Governor Pat Quinn renewed his call for an assault weapons ban in Illinois, telling legislators to consider that ban when they reconvene in January.

"Knee-jerk damage to the industry will hurt this company specifically," said ArmaLite President, Mark Westrom.

ArmaLite is an semi-automatics manufacturing company based in Geneseo, Illinois. Roughly 250 employees and suppliers work for ArmaLite, so any limit on the production of semiautomatic rifles would hurt the company.

"There are those out there who are firearm enthusiasts and there are those who absolutely hate them." Westrom said placing the blame on guns is too simple a solution --

"Right now the main focus is on firearms because it's a quick and easy focus, it's instinctive."

Westrom believes that a ban on the sale of semi-automatic rifles in the state of Illinois is only going to cause more problems because manufacturers will move out of state.

"We would be forced to. There would be no choice," he said. "I received a telephone call yesterday from a city in Missouri. Last week I received a call from officials in Iowa inviting us to move."

Westrom also added that the type of person who buys an assault rifle isn't necessarily the type who wants to shoot at another human being. He hopes politicians will take some of the emphasis off of guns and focus more on the mental health of the people buying them.