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A Letter to the President

Eighty-seven Heads of independent schools in New York City, including myself, have written a letter to the President and our nation's leaders, which ran as a full page advertisement in The New York Times.  The recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, another in a long line of tragic events involving gun violence and schools, has compelled my colleagues and me to speak out.  We are not an organized lobby or political action group, but simply a collection of like-minded independent educational leaders speaking out with a call for action.

We have not taken, nor do we directly address, any one particular political stance, rather we attempt to focus on the issue of gun violence and its physical and emotional impact on our children. We call for action. If you would like to sign our letter, please visit HOSAGV.org: The text of our letter follows:

An Open Letter to the President and Our Nation’s Policy Leaders:

As Heads of Independent Schools in the New York City metropolitan area, responsible for the education and physical safety of tens of thousands of children, we are heartbroken over the recent massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. Sadly, we have too often seen senseless shootings cut short innocent lives. But the horrific dimensions of the Sandy Hook tragedy are so profound that we are compelled to rise up and say, “Enough!”

As the recent events in Newtown and the scenes of other mass shootings teach us, the easy and virtually unrestricted availability of highly lethal, semi-automatic assault weapons and high-powered ammunition place our schools in jeopardy, most especially our children, the youngest and most vulnerable among us.

We implore you, Mr. President and our elected leaders, to do everything necessary to stem this tide of senseless gun violence. Commence and sustain a national conversation about guns and gun violence. Address, and ultimately deny, unrestricted access to weapons and ammunition that have no legitimate sporting or recreational purpose. Recognize that the proliferation of military-grade guns and assault-style ammunition leads to more gun violence and more gun deaths. The statistics are compelling and cannot be ignored.

The United States leads the world in the number of guns per capita; it leads in homicides, suicides and accidental deaths involving guns; and it leads the world in the number of children killed by and with guns, every year. In these grim statistical categories, no nation comes close to our level of violence and gun-related death. The United States of America can and must do better.

Now is the time to take action. As educators, we believe in the United States Constitution, including the Second Amendment. We also believe our country need not choose between the protection of responsible gun ownership and the prevention of gun violence and that both can be achieved through thoughtful and forceful legislation.

Never before have so many Independent School leaders in our region spoken with one voice on behalf of a single issue. We are moved to do so out of a duty to our students and all of our nation’s children. We stand ready to help in this effort, and encourage our colleagues leading schools across the country to join us. Above all, we demand that reason and compassion prevail when it means protecting our society’s most vulnerable members.

We are heads of schools serving children from nursery through high school. We are Republicans, Democrats and Independents. We are parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles. We are responsible for the education, safety and welfare of children each and every day, and we know the time for action is now.

Respectfully,

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