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A national conversation sparked by the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkland, Florida, has spread to Queens, the rest of the city and the entire state as school leaders are speaking out as one.

In an open letter addressed to “the president and our nation’s legislative leaders,” the heads of 155 independent schools from the five boroughs, Long Island, Buffalo and everywhere in between signed in support of the letter’s message. Written by P. David O’Halloran, headmaster of Saint David’s School in Manhattan, the letter demands that elected officials do something to change the country’s gun violence epidemic.

“We implore you, Mr. President and our national legislative leaders, to do everything necessary to stem this tide of senseless gun violence,” the letter reads. “Address, and ultimately deny, unrestricted access to weapons and ammunition that have no legitimate sporting, recreational or protective purpose. Recognize that the proliferation of military-grade guns and ammunition leads to more gun violence and more gun deaths. The statistics are compelling and cannot be ignored.”

Included in the list of school officials that signed the letter are Carla Jantos MacMullen from The Kew-Forest School in Forest Hills, Jim Regan from Martin Luther School in Maspeth and Salvador Uy from the United Nations International School in Jamaica.

The letter is not the first that O’Halloran has written about this subject. Five years ago, he wrote a similar letter after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. When he spoke to QNS over the phone, however, O’Halloran said it feels much different this time.

“This has clearly hit a nerve, and what has motivated us as heads of schools is the teens in Florida,” O’Halloran said. “The survivors who stood up and said, ‘Never again.'”

The rapid response to the letter has also been very different, O’Halloran said. Other than the independent heads of schools, more than 100 New York City public school principals have reached out to express interest in signing the letter, he said. It has even spread across the country to California, as well as neighboring states like Connecticut and Delaware, O’Halloran said.

While on the phone with QNS, he expressed amazement at the amount of emails he was receiving by the hour as the “ding” of his inbox notification could be heard in the background several times. O’Halloran said he has a team working on developing a social media platform to allow more people to easily sign the letter.

The ultimate goal is not to delve into the gun control policy debate, he said, but rather to let “reason and compassion prevail.”

On March 24, cities around the country will host a “March for our Lives,” a movement started by the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglass. The route for the New York City march has not yet been determined.

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Abe Fuchs February 26, 2018 / 11:24PM
How about doing something for all the disaffected male youth who have a 'murderous rage' in their hearts by incorporating 'social emotional' learning classes in all 50 states in the union? How about teaching our young people to not ignore loners and to be kind to them? Why is the public discussion ignoring this 900 pound gorilla in the room???
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