http://www.pantagraph.com/articles/2006/03/02/news/doc440716d1465c2131108157.txt Thursday, March 02, 2006 Gunmakers: We'll leave state By Kurt Erickson firstname.lastname@example.org Advertisement SPRINGFIELD -- Several Illinois gun manufacturers said Wednesday they will pack up and leave Illinois if state lawmakers approve a ban on assault weapons. The threats came as a House panel approved legislation to ban the weapons, even though the proposal’s prospects appear bleak in the Senate following comments earlier this week by Senate President Emil Jones, D-Chicago. In a press conference before the House Executive Committee’s 9-3 vote in favor the ban, the gun makers said they would pull up stakes and take 750 jobs with them if the ban is OK’d. "If this passes, we’re out of town," said Dennis Reese, co-owner of Springfield Armory in Geneseo, one of four gun makers located in the Rock River Valley town of 6,400 residents. "Our only course of action would be moving out of state," added Mark Westrom, president of ArmaLite Inc., another Geneseo gun manufacturer. The sparring comes after Gov. Rod Blagojevich said in his State of the State speech last month that reinstating the expired federal ban on certain kinds of military-style weapons was one of his top priorities in this spring’s legislative session. But Jones, in comments earlier in the week, said he doubts the measure will come up for a vote in the Senate because it is too contentious. Despite its apparently dim prospects, state Rep. Edward Acevedo, D-Chicago, pushed the legislation through the House Executive Committee. The measure could come up for a vote on the House floor this week. An attempt last year to move the ban through the House failed to receive enough votes. Gun makers and their state lawmakers argued that they operate legal businesses that are subject to tough state and federal requirements. Westrom said the state should concentrate on catching criminals, rather than on banning guns. "The arms manufacturers of Illinois and their customers are not the problem," said Westrom. Along with Springfield Armory and ArmaLite, other companies involved in fighting the ban include Lewis Machine & Tool of Moline, Les Baer Custom Inc. of Hillsdale and Rock River Arms Inc. of Colona. State lawmakers on both sides of aisle vowed to help block the ban. "The State of Illinois has almost become an enemy of my district," said state Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline. "We will fight this with everything we have," added state Sen. Todd Sieben, R-Geneseo. The legislation is House Bill 2414.