An Illinois-based gun manufacturer may move operations across the Mississippi River into Iowa if the Illinois legislature passes a bill restricting gun manufacturing and sales. The Les Baer Custom company of Hillsdale, Illinois, makes pistols and rifles and wants to buy land in LeClaire, Iowa, that is owned by the City of LeClaire.
Area residents aired their support and their concerns this week at a LeClaire City Council meeting. Leah Woodward of Iowans for the Prevention of Gun Violence was among those who spoke up. "If your neighbors put trash in your lawn, you probably wouldn’t like it. Nobody wants somebody else’s garbage. Les Baer is Illinois’ garbage," Woodward said, as some in the crowd laughed. Others hissed. "Assault weapons manufacturers in Illinois are getting kicked to the curb, and for good reason."
A retired LeClaire pastor has made a counter-offer to the city to buy the land the company wants to buy. Hillsdale, Illinois, police sergeant Jim Ringberg was on hand to give a testimonial for the gunmaker’s facility in his town. "His employees are very quiet….Everything is just so low key there, that you would never know (guns are being manufactured at the plant)," Ringberg says.
According to Ringberg, run-of-the-mill robbers and drive-by shooters don’t use Les Baer-made guns because they can’t afford them — and the policeman says he can’t, either. A Les Baer handgun costs at least $2,000. "I haven’t talked my wife into letting me buy one yet," Ringberg says. Le Claire’s City Council will continue to discuss the gunsmith’s offer to buy land near an Iowa Welcome Center along the Mississippi River at meetings throughout the month of May.