BRONXVILLE, N.Y. ? Bronxville Schools Superintendent David Quattrone and 77 other members of the Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents (LHCSS) have signed a letter calling for gun legislation .
The letter, which comes in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy in Newtown, Conn., calls for "adequate funding and access" to mental-health services provided at the state and federal level, reinstatement of the federal assault rifle ban 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.
The superintendents wrote the letter collectively with the thought that a bigger voice will get more attention, Quattrone said.
"The central idea is that any response has to be concise," said Quattrone. "We want to take measures that are effective, not only symbolic. Many schools throughout the country have been examining safety protocol, and we are no different. But along with internal policies, we wanted to get as much exposure for our efforts as well."
The letter also urges that anyone convicted of a violent crime, whether misdemeanor or felony, be barred from buying a gun. "Even when these were committed when they were juveniles," the letter stated.
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. New York state requires a permit to own a pistol. Permits are not required for shotguns and long guns.
While the debate over gun licensing and ownership continues, many pro-gun groups including the National Rifle Association and the Westchester County Firearm Owners Association have spoken out for the right to keep and bear arms as provided by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
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 shootings like the ones at Sandy Hook Elementary School and Virginia Tech University, the two deadliest in modern U.S. history.
The Bronxville School has been involved in conversations to increase safety, and signing the school superintendents' letter exemplifies those efforts, said Quattrone.
"We're in a period of time where policies that impact schools are more often at the federal and state level, rather than in the district," he said. "What we're trying to do is get our voices heard. Instead of every school superintendent writing a different letter, we all signed on this one letter to show that we are united, and that we are looking for change to come."