BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. – Briarcliff schools Superintendent Neal Miller signed a letter with 77 other members of the Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents (LHCSS) calling for gun legislation.
Seventy-eight superintendents in LHCSS signed the letter as a reaction to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The letter calls for "adequate funding and access" to mental health services provided at the state and federal level, for the federal assault rifle ban to be reinstated and for the federal "gun show loophole" to be closed.
"We, the superintendents of the 78 school districts represented by the (LHCSS), call on our state and federal legislators to immediately enact stricter gun control legislation," the letter reads.
Miller said Thursday the Newtown, Conn., and Taft, Calif., shootings highlighted the need for the new laws.
"It's just something that makes sense when you read the statistics of gun deaths in our country this year," Miller said. "Everyone is stunned. It's absolutely insane and we have to get control over these things. I want our children to be safe and I want the gun violence to end. Although this may not end it, it should do a lot to curtail it."
The superintendents' letter also called for anyone convicted of a violent crime, misdemeanor or felony, to be barred from buying a gun – "even when these were committed when they were juveniles," the letter reads.
At gun shows in New York state, purchasers of firearms, such as pistols, shotguns and rifles, must undergo a National Instant Criminal Background Check. Under federal law, unlicensed dealers at gun shows are not required to perform background checks.
Violators of New York state's gun show laws are subject to misdemeanor criminal charges. Gun show operators who violate this law are subject to a fine of up to $10,000.
Scott Sommavilla, president of the Westchester County Firearm Owners Association, said legislation should start where there is common ground, instead of immediately tackling gun control measures.
"Every single one of these has been a mental health issue," said Sommavilla, referring to mass shootings such as the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School and the Virginia Tech University shootings, the two deadliest in modern U.S. history.
"What can we do now? Mental health," said Sommavilla. "Those should be done first because it's quickest and promotes the most safety for our children," he said.
Sommavilla also said a divided Congress doesn't bode well for any controversial legislation.
"We barely got (Hurricane) Sandy money out of it. What makes you think gun legislation is going to come out of anything?" he said.
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