Area gun companies await next round


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Harry Tuttle
September 26, 2004, 05:07 PM
Area gun companies await next round
By Craig Cooper
http://www.qctimes.com/internal.php?story_id=1035956&t=Columnists&c=49,1035956

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ON the day the so-called assault weapons ban expired, Mark Westrom looked out the front door of ArmaLite, Inc., in Geneseo, Ill., and didn’t find even one rifle-toting customer clamoring to have a gun transformed into the pre-ban setup, complete with bayonet and 30 shots instead of 10.
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ArmaLite is offering service to retrofit rifles to pre-ban days, but Westrom said there hasn’t been a great rush for the reversal. The lifting____ of the ban allows ArmaLite to sell higher capacity magazines, folding stocks, a front sight base that includes a bayonet lug and a flash suppressor.
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The assault weapons ban effectively banned some features of semi-automatic weapons, but Westrom doesn’t believe there is evidence the ban kept assault weapons out of the hands of the wrong people.
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Some politicians and gun control advocates have tried to push the idea that because the ban expired, Americans are somehow less safe than they were the day before. They are pushing to have either the same ban put back in place, or a different, possibly more restrictive, ban passed.
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“The propaganda from the antis (anti-gun people) was that they wanted people to believe that for the past 10 years the ban had taken rifles off the street. That isn’t true,” Westrom said. “Law enforcement and registration had done that.
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“Many people thought the ban was about machine guns. Ten years ago when the ban was passed, a lot of the media reports showed automatic weapons being fired but fully automatic rifles were banned 10 years ago and are still banned. There is a tremendous amount of confusion about what the ban did or didn’t do.’’
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The controversy and confusion about the assault weapons ban is instructive about what gun manufacturers, and other industries for that matter, face from government regulation and public perception.
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Scattered across western Illinois are several gun companies, including ArmaLite and Springfield Armory. The two Geneseo companies, which sell guns to private individuals and government entities, provide more than 200 jobs.
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Westrom said there are always concerns about what will be coming next from government, although governments themselves are a major customer of ArmaLite.
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“I think our employees do worry about what legislation could be next and how it could affect their jobs,” said Westrom, who is a former lieutenant colonel in the Army. “In this industry, you always have to worry about the next legislation.
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“But political concerns aren’t unique to our industry. Every industry is worried about that next regulation. You can take an entire society and immobilize it through bureaucracy.
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“We’re certainly not alone, but we (the gun industry) are more in the target right now than other industries.”
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Westrom simplifies the philosophies at work when it comes to gun owners and manufacturers by saying, “there is one focus on what to control, and another focus on who to control.”
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“I’ve always thought it was dangerous to remove personal responsibility from equations. Sometimes, common sense, not laws, is the best way.”
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Retrofitting a few rifles, post-ban, won’t be a major part of his company’s business this year. ArmaLite is providing 2,500 rifles and training to a multi-government peacekeeping force in an African country.

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Henry Bowman
September 28, 2004, 10:55 AM
The author proving his own point about confusion:
Ten years ago when the ban was passed, a lot of the media reports showed automatic weapons being fired but fully automatic rifles were banned 10 years ago and are still banned. There is a tremendous amount of confusion about what the ban did or didn’t do.

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