YONKERS N.Y. ? Yonkers Schools Superintendent Bernard Pierorazio 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 shootings , 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 to address an issue that desperately needs attention, Pierorazio said.
"Basically, right after the Sandy Hook incident, various superintendents started to talk about what could be done," said Pierorazio. "We are asking for additional resources, we want to make more services available and we want there to be more thorough screening for mental health issues. We wanted to have the leadership to move forward and make things better."
The letter also calls 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," reads the letter.
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 . Shotguns and long guns do not require permits.
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 letter is just the first of many things that should be done to move in the right direction, said Pierorazio.
"Everything is critical in this respect because, when you're dealing with this kind of issue, the consequences are severe," he said. "You can say this is an isolated incident, but it's not. All schools are vulnerable to such attacks, and we have to look at it from a bigger perspective. We have to take a stand to protect our countless students from any kind of danger."
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