I’m pleased that Putnam County issued a press release following my statement at the June full Legislature meeting calling on the administration to provide resources and funding for mental health services (Putnam County Creates School Safety Team, June 10).
I hope the county executive’s statement doesn’t turn out to be like most of the county press releases and remain just that, a press release with no follow-up. No meeting was called or “convened” with districts for this “school” task force. Our local district had not been apprised of any plan or task force. Who is on this team? How will they chart its success? It will be interesting to see how Putnam’s pro-gun administration will roll this out.
We cannot forget that Sheriff Kevin McConville, County Executive MaryEllen Odell and her presumptive successor, Assembly Member Kevin Byrne, have each been speaking at pro-gun events for years and speaking out against any meaningful gun-safety measures. In the state Assembly, Byrne has consistently voted in line with the positions of the National Rifle Association.
Putnam County could have taken action and supported Philipstown’s gun-safety proposals years ago. Instead, Republican leaders stood outside of Town Hall and rallied against our efforts to keep guns out of our parks and pre-school. To add insult to injury, the GOP legislators proudly hired a pro-gun “NRA expert” who attempted to stymie our efforts and rewarded him with a permanent taxpayer-funded role as the legislative attorney.
Is this task force taking cues from the NRA’s own National School Shield Task Force? That dubious plan espouses an end to gun violence in schools using their tried-and-true business model: Sell more guns. They want to normalize an increase of armed security individuals in schools, so their corporate backers can push more guns, ammunition and tactical gear on cash-strapped districts. Their plan even goes so far as to advocate teachers and administrators carry firearms in school. More guns in schools equal more revenue for the people who sell them.
I’ll remain cautiously optimistic about this “press release” but encourage the public to pay close attention and think critically about who will ultimately benefit.
Nancy Montgomery, Philipstown
Montgomery is a Putnam County legislator whose district includes Philipstown and part of Putnam Valley.