[Editors Note: A version of this letter, which was written to the school board at the Livingston Manor Central School and sent to elected officials in Albany and Washington, DC, was shared with The River Reporter by the author.]
To the School Board,
As a concerned parent, taxpayer and citizen, I write these thoughts on the anniversary of the Columbine school shooting, April 20, 1999. I offer these suggestions with the desire for our children to be safe.
Eric and Dylan, the boys who committed the Littleton, CO school massacre, were both violent with mental problems and had juvenile criminal records. They had been seen giving heil Hitler salutes to each other in school, made strange and prejudiced comments using Darwinian evolution theory terminology and even made a video for a high school class that portrayed themselves as hit men, shooting students in the halls.
Being underage, they asked an older female student to make a straw purchase of two .12 gauge shotguns and a Hi-Point Carbine. After illegally obtaining them, they sawed off the shotguns, a federal felony. They illegally purchased a TEC-DC9 semi-automatic handgun from a firearms dealer, who did not check ID or keep records of the sale. (The firearms dealers were later convicted of supplying these weapons.) They also made bombs that miraculously did not go off. In all, the boys violated 18 different gun control laws, and although more laws have been put in place since then, we are not any safer.
How can our children be safer in school? Mental health issues must be dealt with at every level—federal, state and local. These people can’t be allowed to come and go as they please; they need help. Bring back or start firearms safety and sportsman’s conservation education for our students and end the ignorance and media hype surrounding guns. Hire an armed well-trained officer for our school. Educate the staff on what signs and behaviors to watch for in students and on what to do. Encourage faith-based organizations, especially from local churches, to come into the school. Life can be difficult, but life is very precious, and each of us is eternally responsible for our own actions.
John (JP) Pasquale
Livingston Manor, NY