Business

Vermont Business Backs Group Working to Reduce Mass Shootings

T-shirts from a Burlington designer support an advocacy group started by the parents of a victim of gun violence

Cutting mass shootings is the goal of a new partnership between a northern New England business and a Florida-based non-profit founded by the parents of a young victim of gun violence.

“It’s such a crucial, emblematic issue,” T-shirt designer Brian Carr said of mass shootings.

Carr, who runs Solid Threads from his Burlington, Vermont headquarters, said he loves clothes that spark conversations.

Two of his Ts are now taking on one of the toughest challenges of our times: mass shootings. Carr ships shirts nationwide, including one reading “Books, not magazines,” saying kids should be able to go to school without fearing violence.

Another puts a pencil in the hands of Dirty Harry in place of his revolver, transforming the character’s famous movie line to, “Go ahead, change your way,” with a call for sensible gun reform.

“I think a lot of people are afraid to bring politics into business and want to be careful of the bottom line. But these issues are bigger than that,” Carr said Thursday, following a shooting at a bar in Thousand Oaks, California, that killed a dozen people. “It’s impossible to look away.”

Carr sends half the profits from these designs to the group “Change the Ref,” which just last week introduced an eye-catching billboard alongside the Massachusetts Turnpike in Boston.

“We have to make a change,” implored Patricia Oliver at the unveiling on Nov. 1.

The face of Patricia Oliver’s student son, Joaquin, is on that billboard.

He was one of 17 people massacred at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in February.

The victim’s dad told necn and NBC10 Boston at the unveiling in the Back Bay that Change the Ref aims to use urban art and activism to press for new policies and a more peaceful future.

“I think that the only thing that I can do now is prevent other parents to go through what I’m going through,” Joaquin Oliver’s dad, Manuel, said on Nov. 1 about his work with the advocacy group.

Brian Carr said he wishes his shirts never had to be designed, but with people still dying, he said he’s glad to lend his voice to the debate over guns in America.

“I hope people are drawn into it and whatever side you’re on, it starts a productive conversation,” Carr told necn and NBC10 Boston.

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