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Massachusetts' Stand Against Gun Violence: Featuring Stop Handgun Violence

By Kristen Bosse

Gun control is a hot button issue that boils over whenever acts of gun violence occur. Citizens, lawmakers and gun lobbyists have been debating the issue of gun control for more than a century, and there has yet to be a definitive answer. Proponents of gun control don't believe that state and federal gun control acts do enough, and gun rights advocates believe that the laws go too far. With 83 gun deaths in the U.S. everyday- more than Columbine and Virginia Tech combined, it is time we start putting lives before politics.

Doing just that is a non-profit organization called Stop Handgun Violence (SHV) working to prevent firearm violence through public awareness, education, policy advocacy and law enforcement strategies- without banning guns. In just over twenty years, SHV has done an amazing job at increasing public awareness about the epidemic of gun violence. The Massachusetts Gun Control Act of 1998 was supported heavily by the organization, which helped to guarantee its enactment. The act itself mandates safe storage, manufacturing standards, strict gun dealer regulations, safety training requirements, and effective licensing procedures. Since its passing, the number of gun injuries, homicides, and accidents has been drastically reduced.

SHV has also launched some impressive and effective media campaigns, the star of which is towering over the Mass Pike next to Fenway Park. This 252 by 20 foot billboard, owned by President John Rosenthal, changes approximately every year to address different initiatives and laws that would effectively reduce preventable gun violence. Today it displays the quote "Assault Weapons Have Stopping Power. Fortunately, so does your vote. We need a Federal Assault Weapons Ban NOW!" Underneath the quote is 20 little hands to honor the twenty elementary school children that were killed in the Sandy Hook Massacre in Newtown, CT. An electric counter was also added next to the quote to display the number of Americans killed by gun violence since this tragic incident. Today, over two years later, the number reaches over 63,000 dead. Congress has still done nothing.

Currently, Stop Handgun Violence is also running the "Little Hands Campaign". Inspired by the victims of Sandy Hook and the same little hands on the billboard above, people can purchase little pins of red or green hands to wear on their person. The hand represents every victim of gun violence. The pin is simply ten dollars and goes towards their three main initiatives: 1) Universal background checks for gun sales, 2) Banning assault weapons, and 3) Banning high capacity magazines. Little by little, these pins can make a big difference in gun regulations.

According to John Rosenthal, Massachusetts has done a great job aiding in the fight against gun violence. In fact, the state has enacted the most effective gun violence prevention laws and first in the nation consumer protection regulations for all firearms sold in the Commonwealth. John was nice enough to elaborate on why MA takes the title as one of the leading examples for gun safety regulations.

"MA gun laws require accountability and responsibility including criminal background checks for all gun sales, gun owner licensing, registration and safe storage requirements, gun dealers must operate out of bona fide stores, gun manufactures must comply with manufacturing and marketing standards, and law enforcement must enforce the laws. These comprehensive gun laws have made MA the national leader in gun violence prevention."

Although Massachusetts has done its part leading the way, other states are slow to follow. Stop Handgun Violence still needs support from law enforcement officials, community groups, and even ordinary citizens that simply want to make a change for future generations. Find out how you can help by visiting their "Actions at Home" page here: If each person commits to doing just one thing to aid SHV, a change can really be made.

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Kristen has written impressive content including press releases and feature stories...

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