I recently read a comment on The War on Guns, in which an individual advocates a boycott of Illinois-based gun manufacturers, due to the rather strict anti gun laws in that state. He argues that buying from those manufacturers supplies tax money to the state of Illinois, which he accuses of “enslaving you and your children.” While I (obviously) disagree with Illinois gun control laws, and do everything in my power to change those laws, I don’t think that boycotting Illinois gun manufacturers is a wise or reasonable thing. Instead, I think that such a boycott would lead to gun rights being harmed, both in IL and other states. At the same time, tax revenue from guns is just a drop in the bucket for Illinois anyway, so the State’s budget would not be seriously effected by such a minor loss of revenue.
Unfairness to IL gun manufacturers
It is not the fault of a manufacturer that they are in a state which has such unreasonable anti gun laws, and so many politicians who are opposed to gun rights. Just like most companies, gun manufacturers usually stay in the state in which they were founded, and many were founded long before Illinois became so anti gun. Picking up and moving to another state may not be a viable option, due to monetary constraints and a desire not to put all of the non-portable employees out of work.
It is also important to note that IL gun manufacturers are one of the few groups in IL that stand up for gun rights, through lobbying and grassroots efforts. They fight to oppose a state ban on so-called “assault weapons” that would make it illegal for them to produce some very popular sporting arms, such as the AR-15. They endure protests at their factories, and one of the most anti gun political climates in the USA, while still providing great firearms. IL gun manufacturers are on the front lines of our fight for gun rights, and punishing them for that hard work would be quite unjust.
Harms to gun rights in IL
Leaving aside the issue of fairness towards IL gun manufacturers, it is likely that a boycott that forced the gun manufacturers to move out of the state or to go out of business would harm IL gun rights. That is because the loss of these gun manufacturers would also mean a loss of the legislative lobbying power that these companies possess. Were they to cease to operate in IL, IL politicians would no longer hear some of the more powerful (and deep-pocketed) gun rights voices in the state. Similarly, the employees of these companies would no longer have their livelihood linked with the ability to lawfully manufacture guns in IL, meaning that they would have less of an interest in making sure their elected officials supported gun rights. We could also expect that such employees would be less vocal about gun rights when speaking with their family and friends, if their livelihood was not linked with gun rights.
Harms to gun rights outside IL
For those who aren’t swayed by concerns about fairness towards IL gun manufacturers, or the gun rights of those of us who live in IL, perhaps potential harms to gun rights in their home state may prove more persuasive: When an anti gun law is passed in one area, it tends to spread like wildfire. We can see this with waiting periods, so-called assault weapon bans, backdoor gun registration schemes, etc. Left to their own devices, anti gun politicians in IL will pass new and creative gun rights restrictions, which will eventually be adopted in other states, and possibly at the Federal level – harming the gun rights of all Americans.