BEDFORD, N.Y.--Bedford schools Superintendent Jere Hochman signed a letter with 77 other members of the Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents calling for gun legislation.
What do you think of the LHCSS' call for tighter gun controls and more mental health resources?View Results
What do you think of the LHCSS' call for tighter gun controls and more mental health resources?
I support the superintendents' efforts.48%
This is a mental health issue, not a gun control issue.48%
I don't support gun control or mental health resource legislation.5%
I don't have an opinion.0%
Seventy-eight superintendents in council 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.
"School shootings and youth killed by guns are not a new phenomenon. As was the case decades ago and today, the responsibility and solution is systemic and it belongs to all of us," said Hochman Thursday in a statement to The Daily Voice.
"Elected officials, national organizations, parents, towns and villages, schools, community agencies, classmates, and the media all share the responsibility for systemic changes to eliminate tragedies that range from the fight that involves a weapon to the terrorist acts witnessed recently," Hochman continued.
In part, it is the military-like magnitude of such weapons, as well as increased ease of availability, that has elevated national concern to its current level, he said.
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," reads the letter.
Other districts represented by council include Hendrick Hudson and Lakeland.
At gun shows in New York, 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'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.
Pistol owners are permitted by New York, but shot guns and long guns are not.
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," Sommavilla said. "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.