Billboard targets gun violence with a somber new message
One of the largest and most prominent billboards in Boston, which currently features an ad mocking gun shows, will be replaced today by a much more somber gun-control message.
The new look for the 250-by-20-foot billboard along the Massachusetts Turnpike near Fenway Park will feature a digital counter displaying the number of American children and teenagers killed by guns daily — a figure that will increase by 8 every day, based on the statistical average, according to John Rosenthal, founder of Stop Handgun Violence, a Newton group.
The counter will begin at 1,624, the number of deaths since the November elections, in which the National Rifle Association spent $6.7 million in a GOP takeover of the US House, said Rosenthal, who has used the billboard to display provocative gun-control messages since 1995. He said 200,000 commuters see the billboard every day.
“I hope to guilt them into do ing something — not just the commuters, but the elected officials — because every day they don’t do something, that number is going to increase by 8 children and teens,’’ Rosenthal said. “It’s unconscionable, and it’s shameful, and it’s Congress’ fault.’’
Andrew Arulanandam, an NRA spokesman, dismissed the billboard as misguided. “John should spend the money to put up a billboard calling on the Justice Department to prosecute violent felons and drug dealers who misuse firearms,’’ he said.
Past messages on the billboard included a mock ransom note from the NRA, declaring, “We have your president and Congress,’’ and another that announced, “Welcome to Massachusetts — You’re More Likely to Live Here’’ because the state has “the most effective gun laws’’ in the nation.
Rosenthal will unveil the new design at a press conference today with Mary Beth Heffernan, Governor Deval Patrick’s top public safety official; Joseph C. O’Brien, the mayor of Worcester; David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center; and Tina Chery and Ann Marie Crowell, mothers whose sons were killed by gun violence.
Michael Levenson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.