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Gun Manufacturers Debate Leaving

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Illinois Governor Pat Quinn's stance on assault rifles angered gun manufacturers and local politicians Tuesday.

Tuesday morning, July 31, 2012, the governor added an amendment to a bill which would ban assault rifles in the state. The amendment says that no person in Illinois should be able to manufacture or purchase an assault rifle.

"I vetoed a bill that arrived at my desk in order to put into law a ban on assault weapons in Illinois," Quinn said.

Local lawmakers were quick to respond afterward, saying that Quinn's response is a political move to make him look good to residents.  Democratic State Senator Mike Jacobs says that Quinn knows a bill with this amendment will not pass the senate.

"I'm sure as heck not going to let the Governor of Illinois stop jobs progress," Jacobs said. "Now is the last time we need to be sending people out of the state."

Jacobs is referring to the jobs in Henry County that could be affected if the "assault rifle" ban goes into effect. Jacobs referred to Armalite and the Springfield Armory in Geneseo, which both produce guns.

In 2008, Les Baer out of Hillsdale, Illinois moved to LeClaire, Iowa because of the strict gun laws in Illinois. Armalite President Mark Westrom weighed in Tuesday with whether he's thought about moving his company across the river as well.

"We're continually considering this matter when we look at machinery purchases or other business expansion," Westrom said.

This isn't surprising news to State Representative Rich Morthland.  He remembers when Les Baer left the area in 2008, and he doesn't want it happening again.

"Thankfully in our area, we have state of the art manufacturing facilities that make the best in the world," Morthland said. "We can't afford to lose that."

Morthland and Jacobs agree that the ban should be taken out of the bill. The Democrats and Republicans locally both seem to agree that this is another issue of Chicago taking on the rest of the state.

"The one thing I'm not pleased with is the governor's constant push to close down our manufacturers in northwestern Illinois," Jacobs said.

Jacobs also said Tuesday he does not think this bill will be brought up in the special session that starts August 17th. Therefore, he does not think this bill will pass the way it stands now.