Press Release: On 2nd Anniversary of Parkland, Florida Mass Shooting, “Gun Safety-Certified” Corporate Symbol Launched by Parents of Victim Joaquin Oliver, Survivor David Hogg and Stop Handgun Violence

February 13, 2020

Symbol would allow companies to show support for background checks and other proven gun safety initiatives

Boston, MA – Rather than privately mourn their son, Parkland victims Manuel and Patricia Oliver spent the second anniversary of their son’s murder in Boston working to end gun violence and save other families from unfathomable grief. The Olivers partnered with Stop Handgun Violence to announce a new corporate symbol – similar to existing symbols like the “Good Housekeeping Seal” – that will enable businesses to show support for universal background checks and other common sense gun safety policies. The symbol will inform consumers and allow them to decide whether to support those companies and their products or services.

The Olivers were joined by David Hogg, a Parkland survivor and co-founder of March for Our Lives, John Rosenthal, Co-Founder of Stop Handgun Violence, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.The symbol was designed by the Olivers and is a joint project of Change the Ref, founded by the Olivers, and Boston-based Stop Handgun Violence. The symbol includes the face of Joaquin Oliver who was one of 17 students and staff members killed in the Parkland mass shooting on Valentine’s Day of 2018. Since the shooting, the Olivers have been working around the clock to end gun violence through advocacy and ARTivism. The launch of this new corporate and consumer driven national campaign took place in front of Stop Handgun Violence’s 90’ x 20’ billboard in Boston’s Prudential Center depicting a larger than life photograph of 17-year-old Joaquin Oliver with the message “If I had attended high school in Massachusetts instead of Parkland, Florida, I would likely be alive today.”

After the Parkland shooting and in the absence of Congress prioritizing gun safety over gun lobby special interest campaign contributions, businesspeople, including over 200 national corporations, have begun to demand action including passage of national gun safety laws.

Windy Media, a Boston-based creative agency focused on social impact, pitched the initial concept for the campaign to Stop Handgun Violence. The concept became a reality when Change The Ref created the symbol in the image of Parkland victim Joaquin Oliver. In partnership with advertising agency FCB Global, the campaign will include a tool kit for corporations to apply the mark to their own marketing materials and products. Windy Media has also created a video to promote the campaign that tells the story behind the symbol. 

“I designed this mark to be a powerful symbol for businesses to show their support for gun violence prevention,” said Manuel Oliver. “My son cared deeply about the need for gun safety laws before he was murdered with a made in Springfield Massachusetts Smith and Wesson military style AR 15 assault weapon in Florida, one of the 32 states that doesn’t even require background checks for all gun sales. Joaquin has become an eternal activist for gun safety and I used my son’s face on the Gun Safety-Certified symbol to serve as a reminder of the real consequences of preventable gun violence. I cannot go back in time and take action to prevent my child’s death, but businesses and consumers can take action now by using the mark and supporting responsible companies who show support for gun violence prevention.”

“This new Gun Safety-Certified symbol is an opportunity for consumers and businesses to show their support for effective national gun safety initiatives like mandatory background checks that have proven to work in Massachusetts and many states across the country without banning most guns,” said John Rosenthal, a real estate businessperson, gun owner and founder of Massachusetts-based Stop Handgun Violence. “Businesspeople have inordinate influence, access and resources, and are in a uniquely effective position to influence policymakers as the drivers of our country’s economy. By prioritizing the safety of their customers and supporting background checks for all gun sales, and other gun safety laws and regulations like we have proven reduce preventable gun deaths in Massachusetts, businesses can pressure Congress and state Legislatures to take action, and consumers can reward these companies by buying their products and services.” 

“We welcome those in the business community to show their support for common sense gun laws,” said Attorney General Maura Healey “Our office is proud to work with Stop Handgun Violence, the Oliver family and the inspiring young people of March for Our Lives in advocating for solutions to prevent gun violence here in Massachusetts and around the country. The only way we can make real, meaningful change is if we all work together.” 

“During a period of federal inaction on gun safety reform, American businesses have a responsibility to do everything they can to keep their customers and employees safe from gun violence,” said Igor Volsky, Executive Director of Guns Down America. “Gun safety reform must become a business priority for American corporations in the same way that climate change, immigration reform, racial and LGBTQ equality have over the last decade.” 

Massachusetts has reduced the rate of gun deaths by 40 percent since 1994 and now has the second lowest gun-related death rate in the nation, behind isolated Hawaii. Proving that gun laws save lives without banning most guns, Massachusetts has become a national model for gun violence prevention as a result of effective bipartisan legislative and regulatory initiatives enacted over the past 25 years.

Businesspeople and consumers can join the Gun Safety-Certified campaign and see what companies are already engaged in leading on gun safety nationally at www.gunsafetycertified.org and Businesses Must Act – www.businessmustact.org

 

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Stop Handgun Violence (SHV) is a Massachusetts-based non-profit organization committed to the prevention of gun violence through education, public awareness, effective law enforcement and common-sense gun laws. It was founded by concerned businesspeople, gun owners and victims of gun violence. SHV has been the lead advocate in Massachusetts for enactment of the most effective gun violence prevention laws and first-in-the-nation consumer protection regulations. As a result of SHV’s efforts throughout Massachusetts, the Commonwealth has the lowest gun death rate in the continental United States and is a replicable and proven model for state-based and national gun safety laws and regulations without banning most guns. For more information, go to www.stophandgunviolence.org

Change the Ref (CTR) Founded in the memory of their son Joaquin, who was one of the 17 victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, FL, Manuel and Patricia Oliver are committed to making sure that their son’s life and the lives of the other 16 victims are never forgotten and that real change takes place to prevent future tragedies like this from happening ever again. CTR Mission is to raise awareness about gun violence through strategic urban art interventions. For more information, go to.www.changetheref.org

 


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