Letter to the Editor:

Dear Governor Deal,

As a mom of two children in GA colleges and another son going to college next year, I have spent much time on college campuses. 

I am afraid of what our children and grandchildren will experience if GA legalizes guns in all public colleges.  

I am asking you Governor Deal to NOT sign HB 859. 

I believe passing a bill to legalize firearms on colleges is promoting fear, lawlessness and opening up college campuses to become a culture of fear and death.  

I feel strongly about this.  Nothing cuts through a mother’s heart more than knowing her children might be put in harms way.   

Recently I met with 17 women to discuss where the country was headed and I was very surprised to see that every single one of them was afraid and very concerned about the direction our country is going.  We are successful, faithful, influential women who are doing good in our families and in our communities.  We all believe in the mantra “Be not afraid”, so we pray and prayer is leading us to action.       

We are concerned for the safety of our kids.  We need to protect our children with common sense, caring initiatives, not more fear.  Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” This bill would promote more fear on college campuses.  

Here are some thoughts about why legalizing firearms is a bad idea.

•Immaturity of college aged kids.  In the book ‘The Teenage Brain’ Francis Jensen explores the science of how the brain grows — and why teenagers can be especially impulsive, moody and not very good at responsible decision making.

"We have a natural insulation called myelin and cells in the brain have to build myelin.  It takes years to grow."  Brains aren't fully mature until people are in their early 20’s, possibly late 20’s and maybe even beyond, Jensen says.” The last areas of the brain to develop are the prefrontal cortex and frontal cortex. These are areas where we have insight, empathy, and executive functions such as impulse control and risk-taking behavior."

•College culture. My 21 year old son works at a bar in Athens and I can tell you that the drinking culture is very much alive.  We know when kids are drinking and doing drugs, emotions flare and they can make poor choices.  Adding guns to the college culture of drinking is a dangerous tonic.

•Increased fear in classes for students and teachers.  I was speaking to three college professors and I asked them to describe today’s students.  They all agreed that there was a certain level of hopelessness and lack of problem solving with today’s kids.  This generation of students were raised after the Sept. 11th attacks and they have been raised with heightened fear.  

•UGA President Jere Morehead opposes the ‘campus carry’ legislation.  He and his team would be closest to the issues of college life and I do not think you should oppose him and his expertise.  

•I asked my college aged kids and their friends.  “Would you feel more safe if students carried guns?”  All of them said “No.   We would wonder more about who is carrying a gun and it’s scary.” 

•For teachers, it would impact the freedom of learning and open discussions.

The Univ. of Texas professors protested against guns on campus.  Steven Weinberg, winner of a Nobel Prize in physics and professor at UT, said he would take matters into his own hands in an effort to keep concealed handguns out of his classes.  Why?   When talking about hot topics students can get angry.  I would imagine you would have great teachers leaving.  They would have to wonder if they might get shot for what they were saying.  

As a corporate trainer I would never let an adult bring a gun to class as it threatens everyone there to be on alert.   Learning needs a safe environment.  

•The bill contains Illogical arguments and it is difficult to enforce.  If you allow kids to bring guns to class and admin. offices and not allow them in the dorms, where are guns going to be put after they leave campus?  Students will bring guns into their dorms and then accidents will happen. Before long you will have students letting other kids borrow their guns and nothing good will come of that. 

•Students will keep guns in their cars.  Students who want the guns will break into them and we will see more cars broken into.   

•Increased costs for colleges.  How are schools going to monitor if and how guns are not in dorms or sporting events?  Increased security and more check points.  All this takes money and time.

Mr. Deal, we do not want to see guns on college campuses.  Ever.    

College need to be a safe place full of learning and broadening our students’ minds and hearts.  

Can’t we find new ways to secure our schools?  A policeman once told a group of friends.  “You have a whole arsenal of protection devices at your disposal.”  You can:

•Know self defense.  Why don’t colleges teach this for all students?  

•Use mace, hairspray or wasp spray.

•Use a bat, a knife or a shovel to defend yourself.

If this bill passes I will move out of GA.  You will lose a good family, business leaders and community builders.   My husband and I will not live in a state that promotes increased fear, lawlessness and violence as a way of life.  

Many moms agree - we oppose this legislation. 

Governor Deal, please do NOT sign HB 859 into law.   

Thank you for hearing a mother’s heart.  

Respectfully submitted, 

Christine Martinello
  
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