The very first time I drove into Boston, probably 1994 or 1995, I came towards the center of the city on the Mass. Pike and as I passed the newly-completed Prudential Center on my left, the light towers of Fenway Park loomed to my right. As I drove towards Fenway I was expecting to see the back of the Green Monster but, all of a sudden what I really saw was the huge billboard with pictures of kids who had been victims of gun violence, along with a caption that read: “15 Kids Killed Every day.”
This remarkable public statement about gun violence, which decorated Fenway Park from 1993 until 2015 (there were actually a series of different, eye-popping murals,) was the handiwork of a Boston resident, John Rosenthal, who makes a nice living developing real estate and, by the way, he’s no Donald Shlump. He’s an activist in gun violence, environmentalism, homelessness; in other words, he puts his money where it will really do some good.
His latest bright GVP idea is a national Concert Across America to End Gun Violence which will take place on September 25. The concert will actually be a series of concerts taking place around the country on the same day, but the Boston event will be the anchor for the whole shebang, which is why we need to get out there, shout out there, and make it work.
I know a little bit about gun violence and about trying to prevent gun violence because I have been involved with guns, one way or another, since 1965. And if I have learned one thing about gun violence prevention over the last fifty years, it hasn’t been an easy sell. And the basic reason that GVP sometimes has difficulty reaching out to a wider audience is that one of our two major political parties – I’ll let you figure out which one – has decided that 110,000+ gun deaths and injuries each year is a small price to pay for unfettered and unquestioned access to guns.
Think about this for a second. We had a big argument over whether to mandate seatbelts but nobody would dare stand up in Congress or run for President proclaiming that seat belts were a risk to health! Yet every single Republican who entered a Presidential primary this year declared, indeed demanded that 2nd-Amendment ‘rights’ be left alone. As if there is such a thing as a 2nd-Amendment ‘right.’ What sheer, unadulterated crap.
But the problem with the GVP community is they really are committed to an honest exchange of ideas. So not only are they up against liars, panderers and promoters on the other side, their messages calling for safety and restraint are easily and continuously drowned out.
Which is why Rosenthal’s billboard was so different– talk about being in your face. And now (to paraphrase Arnold) he’s ba-ack with a new GVP venture that should be a home run, because there’s nothing that gets people going, gets them talking, gets them moving like a great, big musical event and, in this case, a whole country full of musical events.
The concert is already sponsored by nearly 50 organizations from sea to shining sea, you can help organize an event if you like, be in the audience at a concert, or just tune in through one of many social media venues that will carry the activities on that special day. The website is up, artists are committing, the whole thing is moving forward and you should be involved. This could be another Woodstock and don’t underestimate the impact of that one event on the culture of the times.
Sign up on the website, spread the word, make your organization a sponsor, tune up your old guitar. In 2007 Congress designated September 25 as a National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims and let’s not forget that two-thirds of all those victims are killed each year with guns. Get it?