Billboards near Smith and Wesson display reminder of gun violence

Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Gun safety organizations Change the Ref and Stop Handgun Violence unveiled two new billboards, placed near the headquarters of gun manufacturer Smith and Wesson in Springfield.

The billboards mark what would have been the 21st birthday of Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting victim Joaquin Oliver. Oliver died in the 2018 shooting.

“No one should have to go through what we are going through,” said Patricia and Manuel Oliver, the parents of Joaquin.

The billboard was designed by Joaquin’s father Manuel; it features Joaquin’s face with the words:

“I can’t enjoy my first legal beer because a Florida teen was allowed to get his first legal AR-15.” 

“My son was too young to enjoy a legal drink, but our weak system allowed his teenage killer to legally purchase a high-powered assault weapon… I work every day to expose the perverse outcomes of American gun laws. There is no reason that teens should be able to purchase firearms of any kind. I wanted to hang these billboards in Massachusetts because manufacturers in the state are responsible for making the weapon that was used to murder my son and 16 others at his school within minutes,” said Oliver.

Massachusetts has banned the sale of assaults weapons, however they are still legally made in the state and sold around the world. There is currently legislation pending that would stop the manufacturing of assault weapons’ for civilian use within the Bay State.

“In Massachusetts, we’ve banned the sale of assault weapons… However, those weapons are still manufactured in large quantities within our state to be sold elsewhere. Children, like Joaquin, deserve to reach adulthood and we and our elected officials must do everything we can to make sure they get to celebrate every birthday,” said John Rosenthal, founder and president of Stop Handgun Violence.

The billboards are visible from I-90 at the I-291 junction and at I-291 at exit 5 towards MA-20A West. They will be on display until the end of August.

22News contacted Smith & Wesson for a statement but have yet heard back.

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