Gun control billboard near Fenway Park forced to move
An iconic sign bearing pro-gun-control messages that has hung near Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts for almost two decades will soon lose its home.
The 252-foot-long billboard – which features a counter tracking the more than 45,000 people killed by guns in the United States since the December 2012 attack on a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school – has been a prominent feature of Boston since real estate developer John Rosenthal ordered the first version for a parking garage in 1995.He sold the garage, which overlooks the heavily traveled Massachusetts Turnpike, to the owners of the Boston Red Sox, a year ago and agreed for the sign to come down in March 2015.
Rosenthal, who hopes to find a new location for the sign before it is removed, said he had put it up with a goal of changing the terms of the gun-control debate in the United States.
“You have this historically polarized national debate of unrestricted access to all guns by all people… versus banning all guns,” said Rosenthal, who said he owns a firearm. “That’s a very unproductive conversation that has led to a largely preventable epidemic of gun violence.”
The gun control group Stop Handgun Violence, co-founded by Rosenthal in 1995, changes the message on the billboard about once a year. Past messages included “We have your president & Congress” printed to resemble a ransom note in a reference to the powerful gun lobby, and “Stop Traffic,” aimed at curbing the spread of guns between states.
Rosenthal, whose effort to find a new home for his sign has won the support of Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, said he would like to see national changes in gun laws, including mandatory training for all gun owners, background checks for all gun sales and a ban on military-style assault weapons.
The billboard’s message may not change again before it is taken down, Rosenthal said.
“I’m not sure how much more powerful a message we could create than the number of Americans killed since the massacre at Sandy Hook,” he said, referring to the grammar school where a gunman shot dead 26 people, including 20 young children.