New billboards focusing on gun violence, which were put into place in the state of Massachusetts earlier this week, are being taken down after drawing criticism from pro-gun advocates.
According to the Boston Globe, the billboards were to replace the one that ran across the Massachusetts Turnpike in Boston. That billboard featured many victims of handgun violence and was scheduled to be removed after being installed 20 years ago. The new billboards were put up across the entire state by the non-profit organization Stop Handgun Violence, with Clear Channel Outdoor, Total Outdoor, Logan Communications, and Outfront Media being the advertisers that donated space for the billboards.
The new billboards featured an image of a Bushmaster XM-15, which was the same gun Adam Lanza used in the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012. Inside the gun’s barrel is a white surrender flag and displayed is a message that read, “We’re Not Anti-Gun. We’re Pro-Life. Massachusetts Gun Laws Save Lives.”
John Rosenthal, the founder of Stop Handgun Violence, said the organization’s message would get “huge coverage.”
“Having billboards all over the state that are literally positioned to have maximum exposure from the highways is a huge win.”
But the billboards drew a lot of criticism from gun rights advocates, as a separate Boston Globe report indicated. This led to Clear Channel Outdoor removing the advertisement from the spaces it donated. Spokesman David Grabert issued a statement on why the advertiser decided to take down the billboards.
“This campaign has become politicized and misconstrued as a political position by our company, so we have taken it down.”
There is no word on whether the other companies had plans to remove the advertisement from its spaces.
Jim Wallace, the executive director for the Gun Owners’ Action League (GOAL), praised Clear Channel Outdoor’s decision to remove the billboards, which he called “inaccurate and misleading.”
“I’m certainly glad they have decided to pull the ads. I hope they’re doing it for the right reasons.”
Wallace had previously stated that he didn’t believe the billboards would get the organization’s message across, and he questioned the use of the white surrender flag in the gun’s barrel.
“The billboards are ineffective. I don’t think they have any effect at all, and I don’t think they’ve had any effect on firearm safety in general.”
On the blog for Stop Handgun Violence, Rosenthal explains that the campaign “has never been anti-gun.”
“We don’t believe the debate should be framed that way. I’ve been a gun owner my whole adult life, and we have always focused our efforts on reducing gun violence without banning guns.”
Rosenthal added the billboards’ message was “an honest and provocative way” of saying the organization is in favor of the Second Amendment, but they would like to make it possible to not have certain people have easy access to guns.
“The white flag signifies a truce, a middle ground in a discussion that has been framed as ‘anti-gun’ versus ‘pro gun.'”
[Images via Stop Handgun Violence]