Mass. lawmakers working to prevent gun violence

Stop Handgun Violence unveiled a new anti-gun billboard

Credit: Stop Handgun Violence

BOSTON (WWLP) – It’s been three years since the Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children and 6 adults were shot and killed.

In Massachusetts, state lawmakers passed some of the toughest gun laws in the nation following the shooting. Police chiefs can now go to court to deny someone a firearm ID card for shotguns and rifles.

The new law also closes the “gun show” loophole by requiring all licensed gun dealers to run real-time background checks during private sales.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo told 22News he wants to take a closer look at these new gun laws. He said, “Folks to take a look at it and it see whether the law as written now will require any changes, any tweaks or anything else to make it more effective.”

Speaker DeLeo joined gun control advocates Monday to unveil their latest billboard to honor victims of gun violence on the anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.

The billboard was posted on the Parking Garage at 50 Dalton Street, between Boylston and Belvidere Streets across from the Hynes Convention Center. I reads: “We’re not anti-gun…We’re for life: Massachusetts Gun Laws Save Lives.”

Credit: Stop Handgun Violence
Credit: Stop Handgun Violence


Read the news release below from the Stop Handgun Violence group who unveiled the billboard:

Joined by state and city officials and against the backdrop of a consistent barrage of high profile mass shootings, Boston-based Stop Handgun Violence marked today’s three-year anniversary of the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School by unveiling a new billboard in downtown Boston designed to honor victims, highlight how Massachusetts gun laws effectively stem the tide of gun violence, and spur action by Congress to follow Massachusetts’ lead.

Posted on the Parking Garage at 50 Dalton Street, located between Boylston and Belvidere Streets across from the Hynes Convention Center, the new billboard displays the message, “We’re not anti-gun…We’re for life: Massachusetts Gun Laws Save Lives.” Stop Handgun Violence (SHV) plans to display gun violence prevention messages on the building for the next few years, and install another permanent billboard on the Fenway Center development once it’s constructed over the Massachusetts Turnpike in Kenmore Square.

“In the three years since Sandy Hook when 20 first graders and 6 teachers were massacred with assault weapons, we’ve seen over 96,000 more Americans die due to gun violence, and that number continues to climb at the rate of 88 gun deaths every day,” said SHV Founder John Rosenthal, who was joined in unveiling the billboard by House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop), Mayor Martin J. Walsh, Boston Police Commissioner William Evans, Attorney General Maura Healey, and Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley.

“Meanwhile, politicians in Congress have done nothing to save innocent lives,” Rosenthal said. “Today we’re spreading a message that the gun lobby hates, but which our experience here in Massachusetts proves – that effective, sensible gun laws save lives. Stop Handgun Violence is not trying to ban guns other than military style assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines – the common denominators in the daily mass shootings. What we are trying to do is save lives, and common sense gun laws, like Massachusetts has enacted on a bipartisan basis, should be replicated by Congress and other states to save lives.”

“We seek not to be the safest state in the nation, but strive to make our communities the safest in the world. That’s why, with John’s help, we passed major gun safety legislation last year,” Speaker DeLeo said. “With this in mind, I urge other states and federal lawmakers to look to Massachusetts’ landmark gun safety law as an effective and inspiring model. Through John’s insight in reinstituting this billboard it is my hope the national conversation on gun violence will be renewed with candor and conviction.”

“It is up to us to work together as a community and as a country on every angle of the gun issue to keep our neighborhoods and nation safe,” said Mayor Walsh. “I thank the Stop Handgun Violence organization for their work in preventing gun violence. In Boston this past year, we’ve taken hundreds of guns off the street and we’ve reached out to gun owners about how to keep their weapons safe and out of the hands of criminals. It is important that we continue working together to overcome what might seem like insurmountable barriers to sensible gun control, and show the nation a way forward.” 

US Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) offered her support for SHV in a statement today: “Every day I’m proud to be from Massachusetts, and Massachusetts’ leadership on gun safety is one reason why. We have shown that gun laws work, and today we stand together to demand that Congress start working for the families and communities losing children every day to gun violence – not the NRA. Gun violence in our communities is not inevitable. It is not something we have to accept, and I’m going to continue fighting for change in Washington so that we can keep our kids and families safe.”

“Gun violence is taking the lives of innocent people every day in our country at an alarming rate. We cannot accept this as part of a civilized society,” added Massachusetts Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst). “From an elementary school in Connecticut to movie theaters in Colorado and college campuses across the nation, we have seen the tragedies unfold and the inaction by our federal government to adopt common sense policies to protect public safety. Stop Handgun Violence’s work on reforming Massachusetts gun laws has fortunately led to lower gun fatalities in Massachusetts and this billboard is a true sign of their continued effective campaign in our state.”

Three years ago today, a gunman used an a Cerberus Capital Management owned Bushmaster assault weapon and large capacity ammunition magazines to kill 26 people – mostly young children – at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.  That massacre should have been a clarion call to make gun laws safer, but members of the gun industry have worked unrelentingly – with political donations and misleading rhetoric – to intimidate Congress into putting their special interests above public safety.  The result:

  • 161 additional school shootings since Sandy Hook
  • Over 96,000 more people dead from gun violence
  • Approximately 90 people killed and over 200 shot in the US daily
  • 355 mass shootings so far this year – averaging more than one per day.

“These statistics tell a very sad and unacceptable story. But there is another side to this story – and we are living it here in Massachusetts. The good news is that we can prevent this,” Rosenthal said.

According to the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gun deaths have dropped 60 percent in Massachusetts since SHV began its campaign to reform the Commonwealth’s gun laws in 1994. The gun violence fatality rate in urban Massachusetts is one-third to one-half what it is in neighboring states with lax gun laws, such as rural states Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire.

“Massachusetts is a national leader on gun violence prevention – an urban, industrialized state that is second only to isolated Hawaii in having the lowest gun fatality rates in the nation,” Rosenthal said. “We’ve accomplished this through requiring accountability and responsibility on the part of gun owners, dealers, manufacturers and law enforcement with respect to reasonable restrictions and gun laws that keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people without infringing on the constitutional rights of lawful owners. It is well past time for the rest of the country to follow our lead.”

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