By Carolyn Starks | Tribune staff reporter
8:59 PM CDT, August 28, 2007
The plain gray building set back in a Lake Barrington industrial park never captured much public attention until Tuesday, when Rev. Jesse Jackson's entourage arrived aboard three buses.
About 200 activists, who marched in front of D.S. Arms, called for the northwest suburban community to vote the assault-weapon manufacturer out of town.
"Chicago is voted gun dry," Jackson said, his voice booming through a microphone. "We want [Lake] Barrington to vote gun dry."
Jackson used the company as a backdrop to a nationwide gun protest that he said was held in more than 20 U.S. cities to mark the anniversary of Martin Luther King's historic 1963 march on Washington. Jackson and Rev. Michael Pfleger, who stood beside him in Lake Barrington, have held rallies in recent months, criticizing gun laws for being too lax and calling for a ban on assault weapons.
Such weapons are banned in Chicago, but Jackson and Pfleger say the law is useless because people buy them at shops in the suburbs and bring them into the city.
D.S. Arms does not sell firearms to the public, but has about 20 clients, including law-enforcement and military distributors, said Michael Danworth, a company spokesman. The business has operated for about 20 years, the last seven in Lake Barrington with about 25 employees, he said.
Addressing Jackson's charge that the rifles end up on the streets illegally, Danworth said it is a culture of violence that's the problem, not guns.
"The firearms used in most homicides in Chicago are pistols," he said. "You don't see too many gangbangers on the South Side carrying rifles in their pants."
Village officials say the firm has operated in obscurity—but not illegally—for seven years in Lake Barrington. The large aluminum building has no signage.
Village President Kevin Richardson attended the rally, but was not aware of the business, said a spokeswoman.
"Everyone shares the goal of eliminating illegal drugs and illegal guns from our communities," Richardson said in a prepared statement. "Since these problems do not know any borders, it is up to all of us to work together to keep our communities safe."
More than 50 police officers were on hand to ensure a peaceful demonstration. While three busloads of demonstrators marched near the building, more than a dozen gun advocates carried signs that said: "You have the absolute right to defend yourself" and "Father, forgive Jesse. He leadeth down the wrong path."
"When is the last time you heard a crime committed" in the city with an assault rifle, said Rick Sherrell, 53, of Fox River Grove.
Three large posters of the front cover of author Ken Timmerman's book, "Shakedown: Exposing the Real Jesse Jackson" hung on the outside of the building.
Danworth said it was the company's statement about Jackson's "forever seeking another 15 minutes of fame."
Jackson and his group of children and adults were unfazed. Five teenagers in matching red shirts served as symbolic pallbearers, carrying a small casket adorned with a cross and a sign that read: 31 children killed.
Jackson said the number of children killed in Chicago over the last year is now closer to 40.
"We want a future, not funerals," the children chanted.
All in all a pretty balanced article, which is surprising...
If Jesse (Aren't his 15 minutes up yet?) was honest, he'd march on the real source of the violence, drug and street gangs, but confronting gangs would be dangerous, someone could wear the wrong color and get hurt! Law abiding gun owners won’t shoot without just cause, and he knows this. Therefore, the safest thing for him and his “misinformed” followers to do is to march on an innocent gun manufacturer, chant and pray a bit...and go home!
Yet another victory for feeling over substance!