01/10/13 4:27pm
01/10/2013 4:27 PM

“The National Rifle Association of America is made up of over 4 million moms and dads, daughters and sons, who are involved in the national conversation about how to prevent a tragedy like Newtown from ever happening again.  We attended today’s White House meeting to discuss how to keep our children safe and were prepared to have a meaningful conversation about school safety, mental health issues, the marketing of violence to our kids and the collapse of federal prosecutions of violent criminals.

“We were disappointed with how little this meeting had to do with keeping our children safe and how much it had to do with an agenda to attack the Second Amendment.  While claiming that no policy proposals would be “prejudged,” this Task Force spent most of its time on proposed restrictions on lawful firearms owners – honest, taxpaying, hardworking Americans.  It is unfortunate that this Administration continues to insist on pushing failed solutions to our nation’s most pressing problems. We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be blamed for the acts of criminals and madmen. Instead, we will now take our commitment and meaningful contributions to members of congress of both parties who are interested in having an honest conversation about what works – and what does not.”

Source: Media statement from the NRA.

12/24/12 2:26pm

WHAM COURTESY PHOTO | The scene of a the fire Monday morning in Webster, N.Y., where two fire fighters were shot and killed and three other emergency responders were injured.

Reports that two firefighters were killed and two more were injured along with a police officer after a gunman shot them at the scene of a fire in upstate Webster came as particularly troubling news to local first responders this Christmas Eve.

“It’s especially bizarre because of this time of year,” said Southold police chief Martin Flatley. “There’s usually a lot of anger directed toward police officers because they make arrests and write tickets, but firefighters’ dealings with the public are usually to save lives, so that’s very unfortunate. ”

The shooting, which occurred after the fire was reported at 5:45 a.m., comes just 10 days after a gunman in Connecticut left 20 children and six adults dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It marks the fourth mass shooting in the U.S. this month.

Police in Webster, which is more than 400 miles from here in Rochester, say they believe the fire was intentionally set by the shooter.

“Volunteer firefighters and police officers were injured and two were taken from us as they once again answered the call of duty,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Monday.

The news hit close to home for volunteer firefighters like Dennis Hamill  an ex-chief in Riverhead, who said the shooting puts local volunteers on high alert.

“We in Riverhead very rarely ever have had any trouble with people threatening our lives or any kind of violence,” said Mr. Hammill, chairman of Riverhead’s Board of Fire Commissioners. “But you just have to be very, very aware.

“You always have to keep it in the back of your mind. We have no answers for Connecticut. We can’t see in people’s heads. You just have to be aware of your circumstances.”

Chief Flatley said it was once common for NYPD officers to be dispatched to fire scenes specifically to protect firefighters at the scene in the rougher neighborhoods of New York City, but that’s not something done on the North Fork.

“There used to be random violence against firefighters in bad neighborhoods [in NYC],” he said. “But we’ve never had anything like that happen out here.”

Jim Lessard, an ex-chief in Mattituck, said Monday’s shooting strengthens the argument for stricter gun laws in America.

“At this point after what happened in Connecticut, as the president has indicated, something needs to be done,” Mr. Lessard said Monday. “I don’t care what the NRA says about the constitution. Slavery used to be in the constitution.”

On Friday, National Rifle Association president Wayne LaPierre called for more guns in the wake of last week’s shooting, proposing to put an armed guard in all schools to protect students and staff.

“To hell with the NRA, let’s fix these laws and enforce them,” Mr. Lessard said.

gparpan@timesreview.com

12/18/12 5:00pm
12/18/2012 5:00 PM

COURTESY PHOTO | A 12-year-old Bishop McGann-Mercy Junior High School student was suspended this week after making an Internet threat.

A 12-year-old Bishop McGann-Mercy Junior High School student has been suspended after making threats on Instagram and Facebook this weekend saying he might have a gun that he would use to hurt his fellow students, teachers and himself, according to a Riverhead police report.

A school administrator notified the Riverhead Town Police Department of the threat Sunday night and a Southold Town police officer visited with the parents of the boy, who lives in Southold Town, according to the report.

The boy’s mother told investigators and school administrators that her son has no access to any weapons, police said. The school declined to press charges against the student, the report states.

A marked Riverhead police vehicle was dispatched to the school before the start of classes Monday, the day the student said he would bring the gun to school.

The police report was filed just two days after a 20-year-old Connecticut man opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School, killing 20 children, six adults and himself.

In an unrelated incident, a 13-year-old Westbury Middle School student was arrested Monday after making an Internet threat to kill two female classmates, according to Nassau County police.

Bishop McGann-Mercy is a Catholic school educating students in grades seven through 12. The school’s principal, Carl Semmler, said in a voicemail message to parents Wednesday, the morning after this report was first published, that the school learned of the post after administrators were made aware of several comments students made on social networks following the shooting.

“Some of the posts were constructive, but some inappropriate comments were made,” he said.

Mr. Semmler said the school took the appropriate steps to get law enforcement involved and ultimately determined there was “no threat” to students and staff.

“We are here to support to your students,” he said.

School officials declined comment when contacted for this story.

gparpan@timesreview.com

12/17/12 8:00am
12/17/2012 8:00 AM

To the Editor:

I have literally felt sick to my stomach after hearing about the horrific tragedy that has happened in Connecticut. My thoughts and deepest sympathies go out to those parents who are now living a Hell on earth.

Now is not the time for the media to fan a “gun control” flame. Now is not the time to put gun owners against those who don’t support the right to bear arms. This tragedy is not all about guns. In fact, I had this discussion with a close friend. I will go as far as to say that the media is partially to blame for this act of violence.

The manner which the media covers many inhumane acts of terror and violence is creating a new subculture of superheroes. The media indirectly glorifies these maniacs and overexposes them. To those of us who are normal, we just look in disgust and sympathize with the victims. For those who may be mentally ill, a new hero is created. Fame is immediately achieved. Legend is immediately created. And a new copy cat is always watching.

The copy cat is now even getting ideas that may have never entered his mind. The media always gives us all a detailed description of how the psycho put together the master plan. Good food for thought for the next super-villain.

The fact that there have been so many school shootings that we can now actually rank them boggles my mind. What has become of our society? Furthermore, the media can put whatever subject matter it wants out there to the public without any system of checks and balances. Barring foul language and nudity, what content guidelines do they have to follow?

I don’t know the answer or the remedy on how to fix people or better society, but I think if people want to challenge the second amendment, we may also want to take another look at the first amendment as well.

David Muntner, Mattituck

12/16/12 10:00am
12/16/2012 10:00 AM

ABC NEWS COURTESY PHOTO | A sign welcoming visitors to Sandy Hook Elementary School, the site of Friday’s mass school shooting that left 27 people dead.

To the Editor:

It is impossible to articulate the magnitude of the horror of the massacre in Connecticut .

Those who say “guns don’t kill, people do” are so wrong. If that mentally ill young man had a knife, there would have been loss of life, but nothing nearly as horrific.

It is time, for us as a nation of good and decent people, to  band together to have the gun laws changed. Please.

Rosellen Storm, Southold