Dr. Díaz-Herrera joins call for tougher gun laws

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express
President Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera

Keuka College President Dr. Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera was one of more than 300 college CEOs to sign an open letter to President Obama and other policy leaders calling for tougher gun control laws and declaring their opposition to laws that would allow guns on campus.

The campaign was started by presidents Lawrence M. Schall of Oglethorpe University, and Elizabeth Kiss of Agnes Scott College, both located in Atlanta, Ga. Presidents from mostly private, non-profit colleges have signed the letter, which was written in response to the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., that killed 20 children and 6 adults.

Since the on-campus shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007, several states have sought to allow guns on campus even in opposition from college officials and faculty. After the Newtown massacre, some lawmakers called for teachers to have access to firearms in their classrooms. But Díaz-Herrera and the other College Presidents for Gun Safety are demanding a crackdown on access to guns.

"Just 10 days after the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., gun violence claimed the lives of two first responders here in our own backyard in Webster—not far from our campus," said Díaz-Herrera. "Clearly, something has to be done, as our letter states, 'to ensure that current and future generations may live and learn in a country free from the threat of gun violence.'"

Here is a segment of the letter:

"We are college and university presidents. We are parents. We are Republicans, Democrats and Independents. We urge both our President and Congress to take action on gun control now. As a group, we do not oppose gun ownership. But, in many of our states, legislation has been introduced or passed that would allow gun possession on college campuses. We oppose such laws. We fully understand that reasonable gun safety legislation will not prevent every future murder. Identification and treatment of the mental health issues that lie beneath so many of the mass murders to which we increasingly bear witness must also be addressed.

As educators and parents, we come together to ask our elected representatives to act collectively on behalf of our children by enacting rational gun safety measures, including:

• Ensuring the safety of our communities by opposing legislation allowing guns on our campuses and in our classrooms;

• Ending the gun show loophole, which allows for the purchase of guns from unlicensed sellers without a criminal background check;

• Reinstating the ban on military-style semi-automatic assault weapons along with high-capacity ammunition magazines; and

• Requiring consumer safety standards for all guns, such as safety locks, access prevention laws, and regulations to identify, prevent and correct manufacturing defects.

The time has long since passed for silence and inaction on the issue of reasonable and rational gun safety legislation. We hereby request that our nation's policy leaders take thoughtful and urgent action to ensure that current and future generations may live and learn in a country free from the threat of gun violence."