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Rivertowns School Superintendents Back Tighter Gun Laws

Hastings School Superintendent Roy Montesano is one of 78 school leaders backing better gun control legislation.
Hastings School Superintendent Roy Montesano is one of 78 school leaders backing better gun control legislation. Photo Credit: Daily Voice

HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. -- Hastings-on-Hudson School Superintendent Roy Montesano has joined 77 other members of the Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents calling for gun legislation.

"The Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents is advocating for better gun control access measures and and increase in funds to improve mental, social, and guidance services and resources," Montesano said. "Everyone would agree that the safety and security of our students and staff is a top priority." The superintendents 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.

Dobbs Ferry Superintendent Lisa Brady and Ardsley School Superintendent Lauren Allan also support the effort.

"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' 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 states.

The Hastings, Dobbs Ferry and Ardsley school districts have all reviewed and improved security standards the last month.

"We have undergone a thorough review of our emergency plans and will continue our practice drills to ensure everyone knows what to do in the case of an emergency," Montesano said. "As part of their normal patrols, police will do a walk through in our buildings on a random basis."

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," he said. "Those should be done first because it's quickest and promotes the most safety for our children," he said.

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