Stop Handgun Violence

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Stop Handgun Violence is a Boston, Massachusetts-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that works to reduce and prevent injuries and deaths caused by firearms in the United States. The group advocates personal responsibility, public awareness, stronger legislation, increased gun manufacturer responsibility, and strict law enforcement.[1]

Stop Handgun Violence was founded in 1995 by Boston developer John Rosenthal with Michael Kennedy, son of former U.S. attorney general and presidential candidate Robert Kennedy.[2] Rosenthal says that he was inspired to cofound the group when “I learned that 15 kids under 19 died every day in this country from the only consumer product in America that is not regulated.”[3] Rosenthal, President of the real estate development firm Meredith Management, has a history of social activism. He led protests against nuclear proliferation in the 1970s, launched the non-profit Friends of Boston’s Homeless in the 1980s, founded Stop Handgun Violence in 1995, cofounded Common Sense About Kids and Guns in 1999, and cofounded the American Hunters and Shooters Association in 2005.[4] Stop Handgun Violence has shown a particular concern with the ease with which firearms can be purchased at gun shows. It is also concerned about how easily children,[5] the mentally ill,[6] felons, and potential terrorists[7] can gain access to firearms.

Public awareness[edit]

Stop Handgun Violence has implemented several media and public awareness campaigns, the centerpiece of which is America’s largest billboard, located on the Massachusetts Turnpike adjacent to Fenway Park in Boston.[8] In 2008, the 252-foot billboard, which Rosenthal owns,[9] displayed the message “We Sell Guns! Criminals and Terrorists Welcome, No ID or Background Check Required,” an ironic reference to the ease of buying firearms at gun shows.[10] Previous displays, many designed by the Modernista! ad agency in Boston, have held messages such as “You Shoot. Your Family Pays” and a fake ransom demand, “We Have Your President and Congress – NRA.”[11] Other billboards have displayed photos of children who have been killed by gunfire.[8]


Critics of Stop Handgun Violence contend that there is no correlation between strict gun laws and regulations and reduced firearm fatality rates. As an example, they point out that New Hampshire and Vermont, which have lax gun-control laws, do not have high homicide rates.[12] Critics also note that the District of Columbia, which has effectively had a gun ban since 1976, has the highest firearm fatality rate in the nation and that crime has soared unchecked.[13] Stop Handgun Violence points to the fact that Massachusetts, which passed a comprehensive gun law in 1998, has the second lowest firearm fatality rate in the nation, far below neighboring New Hampshire and Vermont. The organization also cites the case of California, where a 2007 study indicates that the state’s regulation of gun shows has reduced illegal gun purchases.[14]

Critics also charge that Stop Handgun Violence has made selective use of statistics to support its cause.[15]

Related activities of SHV leadership[edit]

Stop Handgun Violence founder John Rosenthal is also a founding member and president of the American Hunters and Shooters Association (AHSA), an advocacy group that sets itself apart from the much larger gun owner organization, the National Rifle Association (NRA), by supporting some restrictions on the ownership and use of firearms.[16] Critics charge that the AHSA is a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” whose aim is to defeat the gun lobby by recruiting hunters, a key NRA constituency.[17] The AHSA counters that the NRA has not done a good job of representing hunters, many of whom welcome the idea of some restrictions in order to reduce gun violence, support law enforcement, conserve public lands, and improve the image of gun owners.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ “Stop Handgun Violence,” in,
  2. ^ “Top 100: John Rosenthal Developer/Crusader,” in Real Estate Bisnow, March 3, 2010.
  3. ^ “Big Billboard’s Anti-Violence Message to be Broadened,” by Elizabeth Mehren, in the Los Angeles Times, October 15, 2001.
  4. ^ “John Rosenthal: A Laid-Back Social Activist Developer Plans a Landmark Project Over the Pike,” by Michelle Hillman, in Boston Business Journal, May 18, 2007.
  5. ^ “How Kids Get Guns,” by Katy Abel, in,
  6. ^ “Gun Control Laws Concerning the Mentally Ill Are Faulted,” by Fox Butterfield, in the New York Times, January 14, 2001.
  7. ^ “Brady Campaign Anti-gun Group Says Gun Laws in Massachusetts Are Not Tough Enough,” by Patrick Johnson, in, February 22, 2010.
  8. ^ a b “Gun Control Message Is Put Across,” by Michael Levenson, in the Boston Globe, July 10, 2007.
  9. ^ “Straight Shooter,” by Michael Blanding, in the Boston Globe, February 5, 2006.
  10. ^ “We’ Sell Guns! Criminals and Terrorists Welcome,’” by Anna Schecter, on ABC News, August 29, 2008. See also “Stop Handgun Violence – We Sell Guns – Print, USA,” in, August 24, 2008.
  11. ^ Stop Handgun Violence - a set on Flickr
  12. ^ “John Rosenthal is Shocked – Shocked!,” by Jeff Soyer, in, August 3, 2006.
  13. ^ "Effectiveness of D.C. Gun Ban Still a Mystery," by Paul Duggan, in the Boston Globe (via Washington Post), November 18, 2007.
  14. ^ “First Study of Gun Shows Finds California Laws Reduce Illegal Gun Purchases,” by Carole Gan, in Innovations Report, December 6, 2007.
  15. ^ "Boston Media Deceived by 'Stop Handgun Violence' Lobby," by Eric Darbe, in Massachusetts News,
  16. ^[dead link]
  17. ^ “A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing,” by Chris Chumita, in, September 28, 2008. See also “Anti-Gunners Don Camo as Elections Loom,” by Chris W. Cox, on, the web site of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action.
  18. ^ “The Revolt Against the NRA,” by Michael Blanding, in the New Republic, September 4, 2006.