Home / Opinions / Letters to the Editor: February 11, 2010

Letters to the Editor: February 11, 2010

An article written by Jennifer Faulconer and featured in The Spectator titled “Valdosta does not support recycling” included several key points of inaccurate information. I am a VSU graduate of Biology and Chemistry and trust that anyone associated with VSU has the most honorable intentions. My feeling is that your contributing writer initially had a bad experience with recycling in another jurisdiction and wanted to help create policy change. In the end, she wrote more of an emotional article rather than a research article. I think she meant well.
The fact of the matter is that the City of Valdosta provides curbside recycling for all of its single-family residents who reside in the city of Valdosta. This is a program that is hard to find south of Macon, Ga. We accept all types of plastic, glass, paper and cardboard and we pick it up in front of your house!
It appears that Jennifer was confusing the county government with the city government. She did visit our website and we do encourage reduction, reuse and recycling. And we can back that up. Her phone calls appeared to be to the county government, however, and that may be where she began to get disappointed. The county does charge $100 per year to unincorporated county citizens to drive their recyclables to one of the rural drop-off stations.
As a refresher, we have five separate city governments within the limits of the county, all autonomous and unique. There is also a county government. One can drive a few miles to Remerton or Hahira and not be afforded the opportunity of curbside recycling, however find an equally wonderful community in which to live, work and play. Curbside and advanced recycling is a program under the purview of the local government of Valdosta only. However, I certainly understand that when people live or visit within a 50-mile radius of Valdosta, they say “they are going to Valdosta,” much like many of us visit Dunwoody (or another local community in north Georgia) and we say, “We are going to Atlanta.” In fact, Wild Adventures in 12 miles outside of the jurisdictional limits of the city of Valdosta and it is always advertised as being in Valdosta. It can be confusing.
As Mayor, I have continued to support the advanced recycling program for the city of Valdosta. In addition to our residential program, we forged a relationship with VSU and SAVE to begin a campus recycling effort where we drop off single-stream trailers to collect all types of recyclables from VSU and are then transported to our large recycling facility here in town. However, I am not sure how the students actually collect and capture the recycling on campus. I would imagine that any student could walk to the large trailers to deposit their recyclables. We have an ordinance on our agenda this week to begin recycling in multi-family apartments, and Valdosta routinely sends out educational material in our “City Beat” newsletter to further encourage recycling in our citizens.
Valdosta does indeed support recycling and we would be pleased to team up with The Spectator for a feature article about recycling in the City limits of Valdosta to further educate the students of VSU about recycling.
John J. Fretti
City of Valdosta

In response to the why guns are needed on campus controversy, have you looked at the news or crime around you? Georgia tech has been a criminals paradise in the last year. I cant even count how many armed robberies and people shot there were. On Thursday Feb. 4, a student attacked someone with a sword. Why in the world do you want to keep everyone defenseless from the crazy people in this world? I am sorry, but my life means a lot to me; and i want to be able to protect myself. I carry a gun everyday, and i am disarmed and defenseless on campus. Gun laws like the one restricting campus carry only help criminals. Criminals still have their weapons, while the law abiding are disarmed. What kind of school sends a message that they want their students to be disarmed and prey for criminals?
In the Feb 4 issue of the spectator there is an article called Don’t lock and load in public. While reading this I became very agitated by the stance the author took. I wish the author would have done a slight bit of research before writing the article. Like the article states, there are over 400,000 license holders in the state and we go day to day without any incidence. In fact, as a group; license holders have a lower crime rate than the police officers do.
Many states have allowed carry in churches, schools and at public gatherings for years and have had no “wild west shootouts” like many people are led to believe. In fact, crime has decreased in the states that have granted firearm carry rights to their citizens (http://gunowners.org/fs0404.htm). The mass shootings that have been the most publicized, Columbine High School, Virginia Tech and Fort Hood, were conducted in “gun-free zones (Yes, military bases are gun-free zones. The brave people who are sent to defend our country are not allowed to defend themselves and must rely on the government to help them.) So what are these restrictions helping? Nothing. You leave criminals with their guns and disarm the LAW ABIDING CITIZENS.
The author asked why someone would need a gun at church? well how about the pastor who was robbed and killed during church this year? Think he would have liked some security or way to protect himself? Churches have been robbed before and will be robbed again. Things do happen, and can happen anywhere. I personally have had to pull my firearm to save my friend’s life. Thankfully, I prepared myself before something happened. Most people wait until something happens before they wake up and see guns as a defensive tool. Preventing and being prepared for the worst situation is what saves lives.
I hope you post this letter so the students can actually read some common sense and learn the facts before being scared of the most responsible people our society has based on a poorly researched article.

Charles Curtis
4th year
Business management major

Do I have to put my life on the line to get an education?
On my way to class last week, I passed a newspaper stand in West Hall. The headline on The Spectator caught my eye, “Gun laws could change with bill.” I picked up a copy hoping what I read wasn’t going to tell me what I already knew.
A month or so ago a flyer landed in my mail box from a local district representative. The letter started with an energetic and optimistic tone listing newly funded programs for Georgians; job creation and training, and tax incentives for small businesses. Mixed in was a notice on House Bill 615 that expands the right to carry concealed guns in all public buildings, including schools.
I must not understand, I thought. Guns, in schools? Come on – guns – in schools? Does this mean in my school, VSU? Handguns; pistols, semi-automatics, resolvers, that kind of gun? Why?
That can’t be right, I told myself.
When I reached for The Spectator, I really thought the article was going to tell me the bill had died, been amended or was going away, far away. I didn’t expect to read HB 615 was moving towards the House floor on March 3rd, that it may actually pass and VSU along with school campuses across the state will be left powerless to do anything other than comply.
I don’t know about you, but the idea of a semi-automatic in the classroom, library, science lab, dining hall, parking lots, the gym, dorms, the new Student Union, computer labs or bathrooms, doesn’t make me feel so good. In fact, it makes me feel really bad. I’ll be studying a war zone, not a school. Instead of thinking about what I’m supposed to be learning, I’m going to be wondering when shots could start firing, or if I might be killed today, or if my teacher might be, or a friend.
To find out what was really going on, I decided to do some research. Maybe along the way I’d find something that would help me feel better, safer, I thought.
I’ve now read House Bill 615 and understand its implications. I’ve learned about the sordid details of the Virginia Tech massacre, the deadliest shooting by a single gunman in US history, on or off campus. I’ve gone to internet sites that sell guns and ammunition – no questions asked as long as you’ve got the cash – and talked to people who have been the victim of gun violence. I’ve tried to understand why allowing concealed weapons in every public building and meeting place in the State of Georgia is a good idea.
The core of this debate lies in the interpretation of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. Those who advocate the right to bear arms interpret that to mean that carrying guns, including concealed hand guns, is a right, and by restricting the use of guns this constitutionally protected freedom is being denied.
On paper, I can understand their point. But in reality, does exercising this right allow for “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, a constitutional right also? Not my life. I can point to the same document, the same amendment and claim that my right to attend a publically funded university that is safe is being totally compromised.
For decades, gun advocates have exercised considerable power to maintain their RTC (Right-To-Carry) position through The National Rifle Association (NRA). This lobby is a well funded, finely tuned political powerhouse that is in full support of this bill and others like it. They have a long track record of arguing that it’s not guns that are the problem, and have maintained a stronghold on the Senate and Congress at federal and state levels. House Bill 615 is an example.
How have they done that? By making repeated claims that aren’t true.
In a 1997 study conducted by John Lott and David Mustard titled “Crime, Deterrence, and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns,” these researchers claimed that more guns not less would lower crime rates. They argued that results of their findings proved that if criminals knew they might get shot by a victim (as a result of increased handgun ownership and use), then less crime would be committed. Turns out, Lott and Mustard were dead wrong.
By 2002, dozens of researchers had taken a close look at this study. After examining data against the methodology Lott and Mustard used to calculate their findings, Stanford professor John Donohue summed up the prevailing conclusions that “Lott and Mustard precipitated a scholarly and political odyssey that can teach us much about the techniques and limitations of sophisticated empirical research and the divergent norms of the scholarly and political realms.” To put it more plainly, Lott and Mustard’s study appeared to have been influenced by political interests rather than being a sincere scientific exploration. I’ll put it bluntly. The data was deliberately segued.
But that didn’t stop the NRA or legislators from continuing to use Lott and Mustard’s study to enact policies that might get us all killed. There are many of examples of studies and claims by the NRA that aren’t factual, which makes me wonder why it’s so hard for handgun advocates to tell the truth? If owning, selling, or buying a handgun isn’t really such a bad thing then why are they lying?
After hours of looking over report after report, I was feeling sick. The evidence was undeniable. Handguns are too easy to buy and too easy to use. Forget having to get a license, the only requirement for legal ownership. You don’t need one to buy a gun. The internet site I went to never asked for mine, but did offer me a tear gas grenade on sale for only $14.95, along with a $200 pistol.
Next stop on my research odyssey was Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University) in Blacksburg, Virginia. I thought that by taking a look at a college that was a similar size to VSU, and in a town comparable to Valdosta, I might gain more insight. Maybe the students and teachers there could weigh in on this debate.
If you missed hearing about this unimaginable tragedy in 2007, here’s a re-cap:
On the morning of April 16, 2007, 32 students and faculty were shot dead and 17 others were wounded. The shooter was a student and dorm resident. He fired 175 rounds of ammunition from guns purchased over the internet and at local gun shops. He did not have a license. Some of his ammo was purchased from Wal-Mart, where the high school shooters at Columbine High School got all of theirs.
This incident represents the largest number of people killed by a single shooter in US history – on or off a school campus. 30 of the fatalities occurred in approximately 10 minutes.
Colin Goddard was one of the survivors at Virginia Tech although he was shot 4 times. Last summer (2009) he went to gun shows in various states taking with him an undercover camera documenting how easy and accessible hand guns are to buy, without a license. His story and his commitment to actively campaigning for increased background check requirements illustrates how he feels. He has become a vocal advocate for revised laws to save lives.
Do we really need concealed guns at VSU? I can’t think of one good reason why.
I’ve decided to take a stand against gun violence and guns on campus. I’m going to exercise my right too and demand a safe place to learn. House Bill 615 allowing concealed guns at my school, and the potential for lethal violence, strips that away. Guns don’t belong in schools. People do.
If this story scares you, imagine what you’ll feel like after March 3rd, when there will be nothing to keep a gun out of your classroom. The law won’t be on your side and the campus administration will be powerless to do anything until it’s too late.
March 3rd is less than a month away. We can stop House Bill 615 from passing but we have to act now. Email or call your Georgia Legislator. Let the school administration know how you feel. Talk to your teachers, your parents. Tell them about what happened at Virginia Tech. Ask yourself, does getting a college education mean I have to put my life on the line?
You don’t have to take my word for it, find out for yourself. Everything contained in this letter is just a click away. Get online and get informed.
Hear Collin Goddard’s story who survived the massacre at Virginia Tech: www.bradycampaign.org
Contact your local, state and federal representatives: www.usa.gov
Check out the study that outed the NRA: www.heinonline.org
Search: “The Final Bullet in the Body of the More Guns, Less Crime Hypothesis” and others: www.hsph.harvard.edu/hicrc

Kathryn Grant

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  1. I am appalled at the authors ignorance….

  2. Oh also, when you buy a firearm online, the place you buy it from does not run the background check. You must have the gun mailed to a local FFL dealer (gun store) and they perfrom the background check. Just an fyi since you apparently think that anyone can buy a gun online no questions asked.

  3. Kathryn,
    As you stated, the virginia tech shooting happened by someone who was in illegal possession of a gun on a school campus where guns were banned. That person is a criminal. Why do you think that has anything to do with law abiding people carrying? If someone wants to shoot someone, they will. A rule saying guns are not allowed wont keep them from coming in and shooting, it didnt at columbine, it didnt at virginia tech. These happened by people who were not licensed to carry guns, in places off limits to carry. The only way to stop someone with the intent to kill, is with equal force. You should be worried now about “when the bullets will start flying.” Law abiding people are the only ones disarmed, and the law abiding wont be the ones shooting at you. WE would be your only chance of defense. You can live in your fairy tale world where if you tell criminals no guns, they will listen; but when reality hits you; you will wish you could defend yourself. It’s a great thought that a rule could eliminate all crime and violence, but sorry thats not how the world works.

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