YORKTOWN, N.Y. -- Yorktown Superintendent Ralph Napolitano and Lakeland Superintendent George Stone joined 76 other members of the Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents (LHCSS) in signing a letter 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.
Stone said the letter clarifies many issues that are disconcerting to school leaders, and said the need for additional support staff and resources, such as guidance counselors, social workers, school psychologists and school resource officers, has become critical.
"Every year's budget decrease seems to bring reductions in these areas," Stone said. "As far as gun control is concerned, additional action certainly appears necessary and reasonable in terms of background checks and the sale of weapons to those who have the potential to do harm. These are common sense measures that can only help improve the quality of services and the safety of students and staff."
Napolitano declined further comment and said the letter speaks for itself.
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.
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.