Illinois workers produce many popular firearms

With more than 150 firearm and component manufacturers operating in Illinois, over 14,000 working families depend on incomes derived from their work in manufacturing firearms, ammunition or components within the state’s boundaries.

Firearms manufacturers provide private gun-owners, the US Military, and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to carry out vital national security, and public and personal safety missions. The industry supports safe, legal, and responsible ownership, and works to stop criminal misuse of firearms.

According to data provided by the ATF, 43 of the nation’s 3,200 federally licensed firearm production facilities are operating in Illinois. Illinois sees significant economic impact from the firearm and ammunition industry and is driven by a record number of people choosing to exercise their Second Amendment Right to keep and bear arms. A bright spot in a tough economy, companies in the United States that manufacture, distribute, and sell firearms, ammunition, and hunting equipment employ over 170,000 people directly and create an additional 200,000 jobs in supplier and component industries. On average, these jobs pay $65,000 in wages and benefits across the country. Here in Illinois, though, these jobs pay even more - an average wage of $76,799, according to an economic report produced by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association. 

Of the top 10 states covered in the report, Illinois ranks 4th nationwide for economic output by the firearms manufacturing industry, 7th in the country for jobs in the industry, and 6th in the country for top-payers of federal excise taxes on firearms sales. The industry also pays hundreds of millions of dollars in state, property, and sales taxes to the State of Illinois, which offset costs to taxpayers.

However, those jobs seem less secure following legislative action in Illinois passed by Democrats in Springfield aimed at creating a pathway for civil liability for the firearm industry. P.A. 103-559, which was a product of the House Democrat Firearm Working Group and the Attorney General’s Office, amended the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act to:

Provides that it is an unlawful practice within the meaning of the Act for any firearm industry member, through the sale, manufacturing, importing, or marketing of a firearm-related product, to:

(i) knowingly create, maintain, or contribute to a condition in Illinois that endangers the safety or health of the public by conduct either unlawful in itself or unreasonable under all circumstances, including failing to establish or utilize reasonable controls;

(ii) advertise, market, or promote a firearm-related product in a manner that reasonably appears to support, recommend, or encourage individuals to engage in unlawful paramilitary or private militia activity;

(iii) advertise, market, promote, design, or sell any firearm-related product in a manner that reasonably appears to support, recommend, or encourage persons under 18 years of age to unlawfully purchase or unlawfully possess or use a firearm-related product; or

(iv) otherwise engage in unfair methods of competition or unfair or deceptive acts or practices declared unlawful under the Act.

This legislation, as well as Illinois recent gun ban on so-called “semi-automatic” firearms, led to groups including NSSF, filing suit against and emphasizing the negative impact of legislation which targets their industry is likely to have on future job growth in Illinois. Indeed, statistics from NSSF show that new job and tax growth in firearms manufacturing is occurring faster in states other than Illinois, where laws are less restrictive laws on firearms. It’s not surprising many would wonder if we can keep these manufacturing jobs in Illinois, when the job creators face such a hostile political climate from the state’s Democratic politicians.

The largest firearms manufacturer based in Illinois, which makes the most firearms, is Springfield Armory. Through a production facility in Geneseo, the company produces over 590,000 firearms each year, constituting over 90 percent of personal protective devices manufactured in Illinois, according to a report by 24/7 Wall St.

According to’s 2023 report, Springfield Armory ranked 7th of all manufacturers in the country in 2023, as a top-selling brand. Springfield Armory is not alone in Illinois, though. LW Schneider in Princeton (Bureau County), Rock River Arms in Colona (Henry County), ArmaLite & Eagle Arms in Geneseo (Henry County), DS Arms in Lake Barrington (Lake County), and nearly three dozen more manufacturers operate in Illinois, as well as component manufacturers.

These manufacturers do not just employ hundreds of thousands of Illinois families, they also give back to the communities in which they reside as corporate partners. Millions of dollars have been invested by these companies and their employees to support Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, local parks and causes, and in raising funds and awareness for organizations like Komen for the Cure and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.