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Iconic Boston gun control symbol will move or vanish

Boston proudly prepared for the marathon with this sign, but another sign devoted to gun control may soon vanish from the city.
Boston proudly prepared for the marathon with this sign, but another sign devoted to gun control may soon vanish from the city.
Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

For almost 20 years, a huge anti-gun billboard near Boston’s Fenway Park has exploited firearms-related deaths, including accidents and suicides, in a battle against so-called “gun violence,” but today’s Boston Globe revealed that the iconic gun control symbol will either move or disappear by next March.

It could be summed up in the words of an old political axiom: “Money talks and B.S. walks.” The story noted that the 252-foot billboard has to move because the property owner – the parent company of the Boston Red Sox – apparently has other plans for the parking garage on which the billboard is located. John Rosenthal, co-founder of Stop Handgun Violence and the former owner of the garage, sold the garage last year, but the anti-gun billboard remains, though not for much longer, it appears.

He noted to the Globe that the billboard space could fetch perhaps $1 million a year, and he doesn’t have that kind of money. He pays no rent for the space now, and he is hoping someone “who shares our concern about gun violence” will step up to help find a new location. That sounds to many like an appeal for help from billionaire anti-gunner Michael Bloomberg.

The newspaper noted that on Monday, the sign’s digital counter reported that “45,864 Americans killed since the massacre at Sandy Hook.” Unless that number included all firearms-related suicides, home and hunting accidents and justifiable homicides by police and armed private citizens – none of which should ever be considered crimes in the true sense – the figure would be bogus.

A look at the FBI Uniform Crime Report showing homicide trends from 2008 through 2012 shows a total of 45,109 gun-related homicides. Data for 2013 is not yet available, but unless last year was particularly gruesome, there is no way the billboard’s number accurately reflects the number of murders in the 17 months since the Newtown tragedy.

But that’s the impression the number is supposed to create. It is dishonest, but it is a long-used subterfuge of the gun prohibition lobby; combine the invariably higher number of suicides, accidents and justifiable homicides with murder data and call them all “gun violence.”

Examiner tried to contact Rosenthal via e-mail, but he did not immediately reply. We interviewed Rosenthal some years ago for Gun Week, and it was a solid conversation.

According to the newspaper report, Rosenthal is hunting around for affordable space somewhere along the Massachusetts Turnpike, Interstate 93 or Route 128, or “anywhere in Boston.” Mayor Martin J. Walsh told the newspaper that he will “support a new home” in Boston for the anti-gun sign, which is an attention-getter. The current message on the billboard is that “Assault weapons have stopping power. Fortunately, so does your vote. We need a Federal assault weapons ban NOW!”

If no suitable site can be secured during the next ten months, the icon will disappear. For many gun rights advocates in Massachusetts, it won’t be soon enough.

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