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PARKLAND (CBSMiami) – Fenway Park is 1200 miles from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
But Thursday night there is a new billboard near that iconic ballpark in Boston that carries a powerful message of gun control inspired the violence that happened in Parkland last Valentine’s Day.
Joaquin Oliver lost his life in Parkland but now his image and his family’s demand for gun control in the wake of his death looms large on a massive billboard hundreds of miles away in Boston.
And the message on the billboard is powerful.
It reads, “If I had attended high school in Massachusetts instead of Parkland, Florida, I would likely be alive today.”
Joaquin’s father Manuel and his mother Patricia attended a news conference Thursday in Boston.
They spoke about the intent of the billboard. They say gun laws in Massachusetts are needed in Florida.
Massachusetts bans the type of assault rifle used to murder 17 students, teachers and staff in Parkland.
Statistics from USA Today show Massachusetts suffers three and a half gun deaths per 100,000 people while Florida has 12 and a half gun deaths 100,000 people.
“It’s too late for us to save our son, Joaquin but it’s still early for other parents to save their sons and daughters,” Manuel Oliver, Joaquin’s father, said.
“We have to make a change and we cannot do that alone,” said Patricia Oliver, Joaquin’s mother
John Rosenthal, founder of the organization Stop Handgun Violence, said he believes tougher gun laws saves lives.
“If every state replicates Massachusetts, we’ll reduce the 37,000 gun deaths to a fraction,” Rosenthal said.
The billboard is prominent. During Wednesday’s parade for the World Series champion Boston Red Sox, Joaquin’s image and message were shown repeatedly on the screen as the players rode by.
The Oliver’s say their son always wanted to be bigger than life. They say that in death — thanks to this billboard and the message it entails — he is.
“He’s right back sending a big statement to the nation,” Manuel said. “We change this if we follow Joaquin’s directions on that billboard.”