OSSINING, N.Y. – Ossining schools Superintendent Phyllis Glassman 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.
Glassman, who also serves as the LHCSS's vice president, said the letter was necessary to "send a joint message."
"It's so important for the leaders in this country to really focus on how we can be proactive, not just in preventing another tragedy like Newtown but how we can create a better society," Glassman said. "We're contributing in this way to help a multi-faceted approach nationwide to do something about these tragedies. Together, we all have a moral responsibility to do whatever it is we can to protect our children and our society from violence."
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. Pistol owners are permitted by New York state. Shot guns and long guns are not permitted in New York.
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.