Fenway Park (MA) Electronic Billboard To Chart U.S. Gun Death

“The new look for the 250-by-20-foot billboard along the Massachusetts Turnpike near Fenway Park will feature a digital counter displaying the number of American children and teenagers killed by guns daily,” boston.com reports. “A figure that will increase by 8 every day, based on the statistical average, according to John Rosenthal, founder of Stop Handgun Violence, a Newton group.” One: guns don’t kill people. People kill people. Two: children and teenagers includes gang bangers and other hardened criminals under the age of 21. Three: this stat also includes suicides. Four: this billboard will actually hurt the cause of gun control for one simple reason. Call it the McDonald decision . . .

Nope. Not the Supreme Court’s McDonald decision, which incorporated the Second Amendment (made it trump local and state law). I’m talking about McDonald’s decision not to list how many people they’ve served on their billboard.

In Blazing Saddles, Mel Brooks goofed on the old Mickey D’s sign, depicting it with the words “17 served” or suchlike. When I was a kid, the under-arch advertising listed 17 million served. Now, it’s just “billions and billions.” Because, at some point, numbers becomes meaningless.

Eight “children” a day “killed by guns.” From a propaganda POV, that works. You can imagine eight people. Hence the stat’s survival—despite the intentionally deceptive distortion. 5,463? Not so much. 12,834? Even less.

It’s the same stat OD that bedevils automobile safety campaigners. According to census.gov, thirty-thousand American died in car crashes in 2008. That’s down from just under 40k, which was a far more effective stat PR-wise. Thirty-five thousand defies easy understanding. Or dramatic impact. Which is why you don’t hear it anymore.

In cases where numbers are too large to compel, spinmeisters often combat incomprehensibility with the “X die per hour/minute” ploy. As the Firesign Theater used to say, no soap radio. It’s both too specific and too abstract; everyone knows that death doesn’t happen like clockwork. And if it does, what can YOU do about it? Time marches on.

The Mayors Agains Illegal Guns go with 34 dead American per day, even though their stat includes accidental deaths (oops!) and suicides. Boston’s anti-ballistic activists would have a better time of it if 12 “children” a day died from gunfire. Then they could say “In American, a gun kills a child every two hours.” [Sic] And sick. But that’s how these info wars are fought.

Recently, we’ve seen this stat battle on dueling billboard trucks. The Mayors Against Illegal Guns’ “gun death” truck and CCRKBA’s “lives saved” truck have been duking it out for press coverage on the streets around the nation.

As I explained above, the antis risk apathy. On the pro side, “Gun Saves Lives” is a ridiculous, incalculable stat. Given that brandishing isn’t usually reported and criminals are notoriously reluctant to fill out surveys, how do you measure something that doesn’t happen? Are you sure it isn’t 2,192?

Both sides of this “debate” are running out of steam. Despite mainstream media lap-doggery and old-time liberal lever pulling, gun control advocates have to rely on mass killings to hit the headlines. And now that the Supremes have done their thing for the Second Amendment, gun rights advocates’ gun-grabbing rhetoric seems increasingly shrill and, more importantly, impotent.

The lines are still drawn, but they must shift. It’s time for gun rights advocates to stop worrying about bunkering behind/with the NRA, go out and do the grass roots thing. They need to put guns into the hands of citizens. That’s how they’ll defend and extend Americans’ constitutional right to keep and bear arms.

I was thinking about this issue whilst exercising the Schnauzers. I passed more than a few single women walking their dogs in the woods. I imagined a sign at the entrance to the park:

ATTENTION THIEVES! Rhode Island women have the right to keep and bear arms. Some of them may be in this park.

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

33 Responses to Fenway Park (MA) Electronic Billboard To Chart U.S. Gun Death

  1. avatarGunmart says:

    Dr’s are responsible for more accidental deaths in this country then guns are

  2. avatarGunLovingYankeeFan says:

    Just one more reason to despise the Red Sux.

  3. avatarZealot says:

    That sign has been there in one incarnation or another for decades, I’m surprised it hadn’t gone digital already. Though it has expanded considerably judging by the above picture. Growing up in and around Boston, I always found it crass even when I was a kid and was likely to believe everythig I read at face value.

    Also, I don’t think it has any relationship to Fenway or the Sox aside from proximity.

    • avatarA. Lee says:

      Yup, exactly. Last time I saw it, it was about how gun shows were evil. Haven’t been to a Sox game in a while…

  4. avatarMagoo says:

    RF says: “One: guns don’t kill people. People kill people.”

    …with guns, disappointingly often.

    So consider this: If you DON’T have a gun, someone getting shot with it — accidentally or on purpose — suddenly becomes infinitely more difficult. This is one of the key factors attracting non gun-owners to non-gun ownership, in fact. If you want to know one reason lots of people don’t own guns, there you are.

    Personally, I have always considered “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” the most stupid catchphrase in the history of the world. Disable brain, open mouth. (Yet gun loons spout this slogan as if it represents classical wisdom.) If I hear someone use it more than twice, I mentally deduct 20 points from his or her apparent IQ. Strict, but fair.

    • avatarVincit Veritas says:

      Ha. I’d like to hear more about this mental IQ estimation system you have. Seems air-tight.

      and I can think of much stupider catch-phrases.

      Is it less disappointing to have someone killed by a knife? or just plain beaten to death? Or a victim of medical malpractice? Or drunk driving? Murder and/or negligent death is pretty disappointing regardless of the method used.

    • avatarMatt H says:

      People kill people with guns because it’s often the best tool for the job. But that doesn’t imply that the deaths would not have occurred without the guns. Fists, knives, box cutters, bats, lead pipes, swords, machetes, garrotes, explosives, motor vehicles, poisoning and burning can also be used to kill. It’s basically impossible to take away everything that could be used as a weapon.

      Some of the homicides (those on the margin, as an economist would say) probably wouldn’t occur without guns of course, particularly those where a weaker defender shoots a stronger attacker. But since those homicides are more likely to be justifiable, I don’t see reducing those “gun deaths” as an improvement.

      I wonder how many non-car owners are attracted to non-car ownership because not having a car makes it infinitely more difficult to run someone over. That kind of fear of responsibility despite the benefits is childish.

      • avatarMagoo says:

        Vincit Veritas says: “I can think of much stupider catch-phrases.”

        Do share. I’d love to hear them.

        • avatarDavid says:

          “Yes We Can!”

          “We Want Change!”

          I heard those ones a lot a couple of years ago.

        • avatarWaif says:

          Assault Weapon
          Saturday Night Special
          High Capacity Magazine
          Legitimate Sporting Purpose

          are four annoying catch-phrases that don’t really have intelligent thought behind them.

        • avatarMatt H says:

          If it saves just one life…
          zero tolerance
          …for the children
          women and minorities hardest hit

        • avatarVA Pete says:

          Common-sense gun laws.
          Gun show loophole.
          High-capacity clip.
          Gun-free zone.

      • avatarBob H says:

        “High capacity assault clip”

    • avatarBuuurr says:

      Magoo says:
      May 24, 2011 at 11:47 AM

      “…Personally, I have always considered “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” the most stupid catchphrase in the history of the world. Disable brain, open mouth. (Yet gun loons spout this slogan as if it represents classical wisdom.) If I hear someone use it more than twice, I mentally deduct 20 points from his or her apparent IQ. Strict, but fair”

      Of course you would consider it a stupid catch phrase. What would not make sense is if you didn’t. Most silly folk dislike the phrase because it is irrefutable. You have no evidence or statistics to prove that those same people who died by gun would not have died some other way. Most gun control advocates would state that anyone who needs a gun or has need of it for home carry is a drug dealer or involved with the mob (remember that stupidity?). So… by their same logic that person was going down eventually anyway. They could have been killed by knife or bat or fist having all these dealings with gangsters and criminals, right? So who is to say a gun was so bad? Wouldn’t it be just a quicker way to an eventuality?

      In regards to the IQ scale as per Magoo: Don’t forget about the kettle calling the pot black…

  5. avatarMagoo says:

    I don’t understand why gun suicides should not be included with total gun deaths. They’re gun deaths, aren’t they? Gun + death = gun death. I don’t quite follow the objection. Seems to me like the sort of logical maze that only gun loons could find their way through. Firearms obviously facilitate suicide, being by far the most popular method.

    Which leads to an interesting question among social scientists. With firearms the most common means of suicide, they ponder if this is because gun owners are more suicide-prone as a group, or because suicidal individuals tend to seek out firearms. They’re still working on it.

    Since the number of annual gun suicides is such an impressive figure, I can’t help wondering if the gunmakers are leaving some money on the table. They should be reaching out to this important market with targeted ad campaigns.

    • avatarDavid says:

      So should we include all of those who kill themselves with an overdose of a basic OTC drug in the statistics of those who are killed by medications? Should we regulate the sale of cough syrup and aspirin because you can kill yourself with those as well? There are hundreds of ways of killing yourself, do we need to ban each of those? If someone decides to commit suicide with a firearm and does not make any effort to injure someone else in the process, why include it with data that is made of solely of incidents where the firearm was used with malicious intent? Suicide my cop might fit if you really stretch things, but regular suicide is not something that should be classified as a crime involving the use of a firearm.

    • avatarMatt H says:

      I should have included “gun death” on my list of stupid catchphrases. It’s a tautology. Indeed, gun + death = gun death. So?

      I’m working on my own IQ estimation system. Magoo, I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to take 20 points away for fixating on “gun deaths”.

      Do you think that the only thing that stands between you and suicide is the fact that you don’t own a gun? Can you explain how guns make people suicidal? I don’t exactly love the smell of Hoppe’s #9, but so far the fumes have left my will to live intact.

      Then again, if suicidal people are just choosing the best means available by using guns, doesn’t it stand to reason that absent guns, they would simply choose the second-best means available?

    • avatarBuuurr says:

      Magoo says:
      May 24, 2011 at 2:00 PM
      I don’t understand why gun suicides should not be included with total gun deaths. They’re gun deaths, aren’t they? Gun + death = gun death. I don’t quite follow the objection. Seems to me like the sort of logical maze that only gun loons could find their way through. Firearms obviously facilitate suicide, being by far the most popular method.

      Which leads to an interesting question among social scientists. With firearms the most common means of suicide, they ponder if this is because gun owners are more suicide-prone as a group, or because suicidal individuals tend to seek out firearms. They’re still working on it.

      Since the number of annual gun suicides is such an impressive figure, I can’t help wondering if the gunmakers are leaving some money on the table. They should be reaching out to this important market with targeted ad campaigns.”

      Gun suicides should not be included because suicides are going to happen no matter what the way used. My sister had an unstable boy in her class for about three years. He tried to shoot himself with his father’s gun but chickened out in the middle of the street with the whole community watching. He tried suicide by beating. He grabbed an old man at a bus hub and started beating on him fully knowing the teenagers and men there would kill him. He got out of hospital with a ruptured spleen, no front teeth and a set of busted ribs. No death. He was okay for about a year and then tried to drown himself at a local swimming hole. He couldn’t keep himself down he said. In his last foray into failure he tried to kill himself quietly and alone. He looped a rope over the rafters in his fathers shed and climbed atop a bucket to put his neck in. The bucket collapsed under his weight and he slipped and dashed his brains out on the concrete floor. He died. Ironically his death was ruled accidental because it was not the way he intended it. God has a great sense of humor.

      I haven’t owned a gun for self defense until I came to the U.S. I have a gun because this area is riddled with gun crime. As a Canadian who moved to the U.S. who feels the need to protect his family from the inevitable, would I be considered suicidal? HAH! No, I would be considered suicidal by most folks in this area if I didn’t have a gun on me.

      The last paragraph tells me you’re silly.

    • avatarTL671 says:

      “Firearms obviously facilitate suicide, being by far the most popular method.”

      Tell that to the Japanese, who can’t own guns, yet have one of, if not the highest rate of suicide on the planet, and have since well before guns were invented. Samurai tradition and all, even the slightest conceived failure requires suicide.

  6. avatarJoe says:

    Magoo is a wealthy, short-statured retiree who gets into a series of sticky situations as a result of his nearsightedness, compounded by his stubborn refusal to admit the problem.

    • avatarMagoo says:

      No, it’s an ironic nickname. I was blessed with unusually good eyesight. When I was younger I could read a road sign at over a mile.

  7. avatarTTACer says:

    Lovely day for a stroll.

  8. avatartdiinva says:

    Yet another gun control thread so let’s talk pirates.

    Every anti-piracy meeting I go to I hear the same three arguments when anybody talks about arming merchants.

    (1) No nation will let armed merchants into port because they constitute a potential threat. (Yeah, an armed Exxon tanker could decide at any moment to shell the port of Naples)

    (2) Fighting back will only make the pirates mad and more innocent sailors will be killed or injured. You should just send out a Mayday and hope somebody’s Navy will show up in the nick of time. If you are real lucky it will be the Russians or the RoKs.

    (3) Besides, if you get a gun the pirates will get a bigger gun. Let’s see, your average modern MV displaces as much tonnage as an Iowa class battleship. The pirates run around in trawler motherships and attack in zodiacs. Methinks that the pirates are on the losing side of the arms race.

    I am guessing that even the near sighted Mr. Magoo can see that these are the same arguments made by the domestic gun grabbers against private citizens owning firearms. Gun Grabber arguments sounds pretty when put in another equivalent context don’t they.

  9. avatarMagoo says:

    I think the suicide question is an interesting one. By far the favorite method of suicide in the USA is by firearm. More popular than all other methods combined, if I am not mistaken.

    So what explains this powerful relationship between firearms and suicide? Is it because firearms owners are more prone to suicide, or is it because suicidal individuals are drawn to firearms? Social scientists are still working on this question; it’s not at all clear.

    And when people commit suicide, what is so apparently attractive about using a firearm instead of say, knives, poison, hanging, etc?

  10. avatarA. Lee says:

    Magoo is basically a troll. He pretends to be a shooter, but he hasn’t met a piece of gun legislation he hasn’t liked yet.

  11. Optimo artigo. Costumava procurar constantemente blogs sobre telenovelas portuguesas e nunca encontro um site com informacao tao detalhada como aqui.

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