Editor's Clarification: Shotguns and long guns are legal but do not require a permit in New York state.
SOMERS, N.Y. -- Somers schools Superintendent Raymond Blanch 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 levels, 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.
“We’re doing everything we can locally to make our schools safer,” said Blanch. “We already have the support of the Board of Education and the community, but this letter is asking other folks who have greater leverage to help us make our schools safer.”
The superintendents' letter also calls 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 required to have permits in New York state; shotguns and long guns don't require permits in the state.
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.
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