Gun-control bill, on fast track in Illinois, means local job losses Comment on this story By Stephen Elliott, [email protected] Illinois Sen. Mike Jacobs said it's going to be a heck of a showdown as area legislators battle over a new gun-control bill that could eliminate hundreds of jobs in the Quad-Cities. "It's a very big vote," Sen. Jacobs, D-East Moline, said Friday. Workers from some area gun manufacturers are taking a bus to Springfield next week to plead their case for jobs they may lose if Illinois Senate Bill 16 passes and is signed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich. SB16 would make it unlawful "for any person within this state to knowingly manufacture, deliver, sell, purchase, or possess or cause to be manufactured, delivered, sold, purchased, or possessed a semi-automatic assault weapon, an assault weapon attachment, any .50-caliber rifle, or .50-caliber cartridge," according to the bill. Local manufacturers make weapons banned by the bill. Similar legislation has been proposed in the past, but never gained traction. This week, however, SB16 passed through committee and will go to the Senate floor for vote in the coming weeks, according to Illinois Sen. Todd Sieben, R-Geneseo. "In past years, it's gone through the judiciary committee, but there were not enough votes to pass out of that committee," Sen. Sieben said. "This year, they put it in the health and human services committee. It did pass out of committee this week. "Now, proponents have to come up with 30 votes in the Senate to pass. These are not minimum-wage jobs. These are high-skilled technicians. With sub-contractors, it may be another 1,000 employees impacted." Springfield Armory and Armalite, Inc., both of Geneseo; Rock River Arms, Colona; Les Baer Custom, Hillsdale; and Lewis Machine and Tool Co., Milan, have spoken out in the past against any new gun-control legislation in Illinois. Sen. Sieben said the new Senate bill encompasses weapons used by hunters, collectors and target shooters. Springfield Armory spokesman Bill Dermody said it would ban the manufacture of the M1A rifle and about two-thirds of the pistols capable of handling high-capacity magazines. Armalite manufactures weapons, such as the .50-caliber rifle and the AR-15 rifle, that would be included in the ban. Rock River Arms also manufactures a number of weapons included in the proposed ban, such as the .223 caliber and .458 caliber rifles. "Criminals aren't committing gang crimes with firearms made by Springfield Armory," Sen. Sieben said. “These are expensive, high-precision weapons used by the military, Secret Service, FBI and championship shooters.” Mr. Dermody said the company has 165 full-time employees. He said the company pays millions of dollars in taxes every year and buys products and services from more than 800 Illinois-based suppliers/subcontractors. Tom Reese, co-chairman of the board at Springfield Armory, said in a press release that many states are offering "some pretty nice incentives for us to relocate. But, this is home. This is where we grew up. We are part of this community." Shawn Driscoll, vice president of administration at Armalite, said SB16 seems to be on the fast track. "We're talking about 85 employees and families basically out of a job here in Geneseo," Mr. Driscoll said. "A lot of the rifles we make go out to competitive sportsmen and are used for target shooting." Sens. Jacobs and Sieben said SB16 won't make the streets any safer. "I just wish we could start using our heads a little more in Illinois," Sen. Jacobs said. "It looks like all we want to do is chase anyone away who wants to make a product in Illinois." The bill's sponsor, Sen. Antonio Munoz, D-Chicago, could not be reached for comment Friday.