Both sides of gun debate face off in Lake Barrington

In the wake of the Orlando, Florida, shootings earlier this week, anti-gun protesters and counterprotesters rallied outside a Lake Barrington gun manufacturer Friday afternoon.

It was one of many demonstrations going on around the country showing the continuing national divide over how much regulation should be placed on the manufacture, sale and ownership of guns.

Peaceful Communities, an anti-gun advocacy group, staged a noontime protest outside of DS Arms Inc., which manufactures arms and sells them both to law enforcement agencies and from a factory store on Industrial Avenue, two blocks north of Northwest Highway.

One of the guns manufactured at the facility is the AR-15, a semi-automatic rifle that is among the most popular in the country and was used by gunmen in deadly attacks in Newtown, Connecticut; Aurora, Colorado; and San Bernardino, California.

“If somebody goes crazy in a movie theater with a pistol with six rounds in it, they aren't going to be able to do as much damage as the AR-15 can do,” said David Borris, a Highland Park resident. “There is absolutely no place on the streets in a civilized society for AR-15s.”

Borris and 40 or so other protesters gathered on the lawn next to the business while 50 feet away about 30 people stood in support of the store.

“I buy my guns and ammo here so I've got to be supportive,” said Ken Malo, a Lake Barrington resident who has lived in the Barrington area for 48 years. “We're in support of the Second Amendment here — people's right to bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Michael Danforth, an attorney for DS Arms, addressed the media on behalf of the company.

“We are very sympathetic to the evil that was committed against our LGBTQ neighbors and friends in Florida and we hope nothing like that ever happens again,” Danforth said. “Unfortunately, it could and it's tragic that people there were not able to be defended. There was nobody to intervene and take care of them when terror came knocking on that bar door.”

Danforth added that the company offers concealed carry training, and he welcomed members of the LGBTQ community who wished to protect themselves to use DS Arms' services.

It was the ninth recent protest staged by the anti-gun group outside suburban gun manufacturers and shops on what it called its “Merchants of Death Protest Tour.”

“My hope is that we were able to change the conversation a little bit and focus on the people who were making money with the current situation,” said Lee Goodman, a Northbrook man who led Friday's protest. “If this industry pays for the damage that it causes, it would be bankrupt in a day. Because what happens right now is they take the profits and they leave the losses to the public.”

Although there was clearly tension between the two groups, the protest was civil. One DS Arms employee offered bottled water to the protesters so no one would get too thirsty and pass out under the hot sun, and the protesters kept off the store's property, except for one who walked over to the store and was asked to leave by a Lake County sheriff's deputy who was on the scene.

• Daily Herald staff writer Christopher Placek contributed to this report.

  David Borris, a Highland Park man protesting with Peaceful Communities Friday, speaks to DS Arms attorney Michael Danforth, during the group's protest in Lake Barrington Friday afternoon. Bob Chwedyk/
  Michael Danforth, attorney for DS Arms, a gun manufacturer in Lake Barrington, speaks to protesters from Peaceful Communities during the group's protest outside of DS Arms Friday afternoon. Bob Chwedyk/
  Rabbi Bruce Elder of Congregation Hakafa in Glencoe speaks to DS Arms attorney Michael Danforth during a protest outside of the store lead by Peaceful Communities in Lake Barrington Friday afternoon. Bob Chwedyk/
  Gun advocates Paul Lehde and Sue Lehde of Barrington Hills and Wes Bielinski of Chicago shout questions toward protesters with Peaceful Communities in Lake Barrington Friday afternoon. Bob Chwedyk/
  Tom McMenamin of Highland Park holds a flag during the protest organized by Peaceful Communities outside DS Arms, a gun manufacturer in Lake Barrington Friday afternoon. Bob Chwedyk/
  Ken Malo, left, a Lake Barrington resident stands with other gun advocates outside DS Arms, a gun manufacturer in Lake Barrington, to show support for the business Friday. Bob Chwedyk/
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