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Byram Hills Superintendent Signs Gun Control Letter

Byram Hills Central Schools Superintendent Bill Donohue has signed a letter in support of gun legislation with 77 other superintendents.
Byram Hills Central Schools Superintendent Bill Donohue has signed a letter in support of gun legislation with 77 other superintendents. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Putnam and Northern Westchester BOCES

Editor's Clarification: Shot guns and long guns do not require a permit in New York State.

ARMONK, N.Y. – Byram Hills Central School District Superintendent Bill Donohue has signed a letter with 77 other members of the Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents (LHCSS) calling for gun legislation .

The letter in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting 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.

“I think the fact that so many of these tragedies are happening in schools is something that’s hard not to notice,” said Donohue. “The topic of gun control is something bodies larger than school districts need to address.”

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.

“There are some changes within protective security that seem appropriate to make,” said Donahue. “There needs to be limits on people who might be dangerous.”

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 must have permits in New York State . Shot guns and long guns do not require permits 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 such mass shootings as the ones at Sandy Hook Elementary School and at Virginia Tech University , 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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