Photo posted by Valinda Rowe at Illinois Carry

by John Boch

The news of Springfield Armory and Rock River Arms selling Illinois gun dealers and gun owners down the river continues to spread among The People of The Gun. As it should. For those who missed it, I broke the story at TTAG late Thursday evening.

Springfield Armory, Rock River Arms Trade Opposition to Illinois FFL Licensing Scheme for Carve-Out

The lobbyist for the Illinois Firearms Manufacturers 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.

A whole lot of gun owners see the deal as a sell-out. And they’re telling their friends.

This wasn’t the first time gun dealer licensing has come up in Illinois. We beat back a similar bill last year. This year, State Senator Don Harmon needed IFMA to end their opposition to his bill. IFMA’s Keller testified in March at the Illinois Senate Judiciary committee of his willingness to consider dropping the lobbying group’s opposition to the bill if his clients were exempted.

As a long-time, dedicated anti- gunner, this wasn’t Senator Harmon’s first legislative rodeo. Like a shrewd negotiator, Harmon happily added a manufacturer and big box retailer carve-out to the bill so he could cobble together the last few votes he needed to get it through the Senate.

Keller dropped IFMA’s opposition, providing cover for a couple of wavering Senators to vote for the bill.  Sure enough, the bill passed the Senate by a single vote.

Some might say IFMA’s change of heart might not have made a definitive difference. It might not have, but then again, if Senator Harmon didn’t think it wouldn’t have gotten him that last vote or two he needed, he wouldn’t have offered the deal.

In the end, the timing proved fortuitous to all involved. All except for gun owners and the non-big box store gun dealers who have to live and work in the Land of Lincoln.

The biggest tragedy

Maybe worst of all, passage gives anti-gunners a win they desperately needed. Today, we have nearly one dozen gun control groups working in Illinois. Half of those are national groups out of Washington, D.C., that have set up shop in Springfield hotels.

They’ve come to the heart of flyover country because they know their anti-2A dog won’t hunt back in Washington. They see deep-blue Illinois as a great place to enact more of their gun control schemes. And when gun control wins, they keep that keeps gravy train flowing so they can draw a paycheck and keep on going.

Salt in the wound

Dennis Reese’s statement to TTAG on IFMA’s deal was insulting. He didn’t say, “Hey, we screwed up.  We’re pulling out of IFMA and regret that this happened. We want our dealers and our valued customers to know we won’t ever do anything like this again.”

Instead, he said, and I quote:

“…We fully support the Second Amendment and stand by it. The Illinois Manufacturers Association will continue to fight and protect not only manufacturers, but dealers and the gun owner as well.”

His lobbyist will continue to fight and protect dealers and gun owners? It was his lobbyist stood aside on a bill that rations everyday Illinoisans to nine firearm transfers per year. That’s not fighting to protect gun owners. That’s rolling over and showing your belly while wagging your tail.

If signed into law, the bill his lobbyist declined to oppose will drive many dealers out of business with its onerous and expensive restrictions and requirements. With “support” like that, who needs Everytown?


I’ve spoken with a couple of bigger dealers in Illinois in the past 24 hours. Both are were on their way to selling over a quarter million of Springfield product this year. But they’ve already heard from their customers about the IFMA sell-out. One dealer told me he’s pulling Springfield product from his shelves to give his salespeople a break from carping customers.


“So, you’re not buying a bunch of Springfield’s new pistols?” I asked one. “Oh, hell no,” he told me. “I’m not ordering anything Springfield. Frankly, I’m wondering how I’m going to sell my existing inventory.”

Another dealer told me he wished Springfield well. But I didn’t detect a lot of love in his words.

Comments or lack thereof from Rock River and Springfield

Meanwhile, over at the Rock River booth the NRA convention, owner Chuck Larson has professed innocence in the matter. He’s told several industry types that he had no contact with IFMA lobbyist Jay Keller and knew nothing of this carve-out. What’s more, Larson seems genuinely appalled by what happened.

Springfield, on the other hand, has gone silent. CEO Dennis Reese hasn’t responded to a request for comment or a further statement beyond the one he released Thursday night.  Furthermore, Springfield has adopted a "we have no comment" as they seem to be trying to figure out how to spin this in their own favor. 

Springfield's rumored to be making demands of the NRA.  We'll see how that goes. 

Ben Franklin once said, “If we do not hang together, we shall surely hang separately.”

If IFMA had stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the NRA-ILA, the Illinois State Rifle Association, Guns Save Life and the National Shooting Sports Foundation – working as a team to oppose this egregious bill – we’d have had a good chance of depriving anti-gunners of a badly needed win.

Instead, we were undercut by a self-serving supposed ally.

Maybe the deal was the result of a lobbyist gone rogue. Perhaps a company thought they could pull a fast one and nobody would notice. There’s no way to know for sure.  Regardless of who did what, the after-effects of this deal and a legislative loss will be felt far beyond Illinois for some time to come.


21 thoughts on “EDITORIAL: Springfield & Rock River’s Sleazy Sell-Out”
  1. Never was a fan of rock river but I do have an xds that is not my favorite by any means. Won't even consider these two smucks for any future purchases.

  2. Hey John, your TTAG post is going viral, it's ALL OVER the pro-gun internet. Good work(here's hoping the Springfield Boycott actually materializes)

  3. I see no reason for me to ever spend any of my money on Springfield or Rock River,

  4. Springfield Armory and RRA have forgotten a fundamental rule – you don't sell out your friends. What the hell were you thinking?

    Springfield Armory is dead to me.  I will never buy one of their products again.

    Rock River – how can you be unaware of what your lobbyist was doing?  I don't believe you.  As was very obvious at the NRA convention, there are many excellent AR-15 vendors.  You can be easily replaced.

    There is a reasonable chance this bill will pass in the house.  Gov Rauner is an unknown.  Your betrayal has put Illinois law abiding gun owners in a terrible position.

    I urge a boycott of both Springfiend Armory and Rock River Arms.


  5. Let's not forget Senator Tom Rooney (R), Illinois State Senator for the 27th Senate District. He cast the lone Republican vote for this bill.  I have no polite words for this "person".  I wonder if Bloomberg slipped him some inducement under the table.    

  6. At Liberty Guns & Ammo in Homer IL we are having a "Sellout selloff" to get rid of our inventory of SA and RRA firearms at COST, I encourge people to stop by and use the deal SA has for the free magazines for these guns to cost them as much as we can in the process. I will NOT be ordering anything else from them to re-stock!

    I've alse been trolling their FB page with this sale on as many of their posts from the NRA convention as I can in the comments section, I sincerely hope they contact me about this.

  7. I've been a Springfield Armory fan for decades. I own an original M14 from Vietnam and a new M1A SOCOM 16 CQB as well as a couple 1911's. I was planning on buying the new Saint as well. I know the 5 or 6k I have spent on their guns won't hurt their pocketbook, but maybe if we stand as a community our voice will be heard. I live in Arizona so this doesn't affect me, but I stand with gun owners nationwide.

  8. Thanks John for breaking the story.  It will allow those of us who purchase firearms something to consider when making future purchases.  I stay open minded, because sometimes perception isn't reality, but as it stands, the perception is that these two have screwed themselves good, whether the bill passes or not. 

  9. Boch…  Now I understand what that post last week at TTAG was all about.  How you fired a warning shot across their bow.  They ignored it and now you fired your big gun and nailed 'em in the boiler room.  Good goddamn work.

    Sink those treasonous bastards.

  10. Please don't include the Illinois State Rifle Association as an organization standing up for our rights! Let us not forget we had the decision of the 7th Circuit Court on our side, a deadline that had to be met, and a solid CCW bill. As expected the Chicago Machine started to tear that bill to shreds. In response, the ISRA sold out every law abiding Illinois gun owner by officially coming out as neutral on the new bill that exempted dozens of places from allowing people to carry. Many of them where people needed the right to self protection the most! When asked by members to explain themselves they simply ignored them all and banned them from commenting on their social media outlets. The Richard Pearson and the rest of the sellout cowards at the ISRA see themselves as not having to answer to their membership then have the unmitigated gaul to still pander for more cash. I do wonder what they got in that backroom deal that was worth selling out their members for? Just as the ISRA has not seen a single red cent from me since, neither will SA or RRA.

  11. I wonder…

    Did RR/SA just get played?  Are the anti gunners clever enough to set and spring this trap?

    1.   Bloomberg and his minions couldn't put these two  firearms makers out of business legislatively – not directly anyway.
    2.   Set it up to make it look like RR/SA were getting something to help them stay in business.  RR/SA are certainly not blameless, but neither are they necessarily crafty politicians or devilishly devious billionaires.
    3.   Instead they get rolled.  This brouhaha poisons the market for RR/SA, two otherwise pretty well respected names in the industry, and they wither and die.  Hard to survive.  They'd have to admit they were both incompetent AND untrustworthy.
    4.  Anti-gunners celebrate.     

    Remember the movie, "The Sting"?




  14. I believe now that the true story is out some of you might want to rethink your responses.


    1. So, Cookie, what "true story"? The B.S. statements the companies release half a week after the story broke? Springfield sold us out. I'm not as sure about RRA, but as of right now I'm including them in the blame. Also, check out John's TTAG story on the thousands of dollars these companies gave Madigan and other anti-gun politicians. No excuse for that.

    2. You don't believe a lobbiest could have made the deal without Springfield or RRA knowing? Maybe you should reread the story, John Boch thinks it's posible. If you spend anytime around lobbiest you will find they always think they are making the deal of a lifetime to get a vote down the road. I will take the companies word for now. If you think Springfield is so complicit, why are you letting RRA off the hook. And as far as selling any of their products you own, how is that hurting them. they already got your money!


    3. To cookie: I believe it is possible that the lobbyist acted without SA and RRA's knowledge, but at this point it seems unlikely, considering those companies founded the IFMA and were the only members. I now feel the same about RRA as I do SA, after looking into this more. I agree that selling products of theirs that we/I already own doesn't hurt them, but it's symbolic. Also, I own no SA or RRA products already, so I'm not selling any. However, to me, at present, it seems like the companies intentionally used the bill to shut down competition, and have been giving money to our enemies. I could be wrong though, so I'll have to wait and see which of us has to eat his words. And thanks the civilized rebuttal, and for not just using ad hominem attacks against me(like most internet commentators)

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