A Newton-based advocacy group is calling on US Senator Scott Brown and other members of Congress to support a federal ban on assault weapons, and the group plans to add a banner on Thursday to a billboard near Fenway Park that highlights the dangers of gun violence.
“How can Congress live with themselves, knowing they allow criminals and terrorists to buy guns undetected?” said John Rosenthal, founder and chairman of Stop Handgun Violence.
He said the group has been running advertisements on a 252-foot-by-20-foot billboard on the Massachusetts Turnpike near Fenway Park since 1995.
Thursday morning, a banner saying “Shame On Congress” will be added to the billboard, above a numeric tally showing that more than 5,000 children have been fatally shot nationwide since the 2010 elections. The group plans to announce the billboard addition at a news conference later in the morning at the Art Institute of Boston.
Rosenthal said the group is singling out Brown for his opposition to a federal assault weapons ban because he represents Massachusetts.
Marcie Kinzel, a spokeswoman for Brown, said the senator believes the issue should be left to individual states.
“Massachusetts has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation,” Kinzel said. “Senator Brown supported the assault weapons ban here in the Bay State, and he believes individual states are the appropriate place for these decisions.”
President Clinton signed a federal assault weapons ban into law in 1994, but the measure expired 10 years later.
There have been renewed calls for such a ban after a gunman opened fire last month inside a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., with an assault rifle, killing 12 people and injuring 58.
On Wednesday, Rosenthal said the National Rifle Association, a powerful gun rights organization and an opponent of a federal assault weapons ban, has “bought” Congress by donating millions of dollars to candidates in recent years.
The NRA argues that the arms in question are rarely used in crimes and have a legitimate purpose in hunting, target shooting, and self-protection.
An NRA spokesman, Andrew Arulanandam, declined to comment. Last year, he said the Turnpike billboard was misguided. “John should spend the money to put up a billboard calling on the Justice Department to prosecute violent felons and drug dealers who misuse firearms,” Arulanandam told the Globe in May 2011.