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Everybody's column

Gun buy-back program will not reduce crime

The shooting of two brave police officers is a major tragedy, but the risk to cops will not be reduced by a gun buy-back program. This program would allow criminals to get rid of crime guns, since there are no questions asked and the guns are not tested to see if the bullets match those recovered from assaults and homicides. In fact, the guns are destroyed and lost as possible evidence.

New York law regarding pistol permits is draconian. It usually takes six months to a year to obtain a permit. In Erie County, it has been the practice of judges to restrict carrying of a gun to "target shooting and hunting." Obviously, these judges believe honest citizens should not have a viable means to protect themselves from violent criminals.

This makes it easy for homicidal criminals to achieve their objective. The bike path rapist is a good example of how powerful predators can literally get away with murder without being stopped. Many people believe that if armed citizens effectively stopped the violent criminals, it would do more to reduce violent crime than doubling the size of the police force.

The problem is not too many guns on the street, but rather, too many criminals who slip through the criminal justice system and return to the streets too soon.

Budd Schroeder

Board Chairman, SCOPE

Lancaster

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Why on earth does Hevesi have three public pensions?

On Dec. 10, I read The News article, "Hevesi defense could cite poll victory." It said State Comptroller Alan Hevesi had to remortgage his house to raise money to pay back the state. He also used $750,000 from his campaign fund to help pay his legal bills. And it noted that he gets not one pension, but three public pensions.

Is this legal? How can this be possible? How in the world did he get three government pensions? Don't these people have any shame? How do they sleep at night? Something smells awfully fishy. This is just another nail in the coffin for New York State.

Thomas C. Ford

Hamburg

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Millard Fillmore provides best care for stroke victims

The recent decision to close Millard Fillmore Hospital at Gates Circle is very disheartening for reasons well beyond the fact that its Stroke Care Center is Western New York's most highly regarded, specialized facility. Here one can find a personal touch seldom found in most other hospitals.

My father was recently admitted to the Stroke Care Center after experiencing a mini-stroke. The expertise and compassionate concern exhibited by those involved with his care was commendable. As family members, we were naturally shaken up and concerned. The hospital's highly professional staff helped relieve our anxiety by clearly explaining the nature of his medical problem and various treatment options available -- a consideration often lacking in today's increasingly "assembly-line" health care environment.

What I witnessed at Millard Fillmore were doctors, nurses, interns and aides in action, cheerfully attending to dad's needs. Despite working a grueling 12-hour shift, their professionalism and dedication never wavered. My dad regards Gates Circle as the "Cadillac" of such facilities in Western New York. What a blessing to have it located in Buffalo.

Judith Galganski

West Seneca

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Our community needs St. Joseph Hospital

I am writing to protest the closing of St. Joseph Hospital and to reinforce the impact this will have on the community and surrounding suburbs, not just the employees. This impact would be so massive that I feel someone from the commission should come to Cheektowaga, walk into the hospital and actually talk to staff members, patients and administrators. He should then drive around town and beyond to see just how important it is to have a hospital in this location.

Then drive to the next nearest hospital during rush hour or bad weather and imagine yourself lying in the back of an ambulance with crushing chest pain and seeing the shuttered windows of St. Joseph as you pass by on your way to some other hospital.

Sheila Foster, L.P.N.

Buffalo

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Too many fiefdoms spoil the economy

Kevin Gaughan's focus on our region's bloated government illustrates another issue that contributes to our stagnant economy -- home rule. As he pointed out, we have 45 local governments, all holding elections, all with control of their turf.

For New York State's agrarian economy of the 19th century, this local control worked well. But the world has changed. As a region, we must compete with other metropolitan areas not handcuffed by parochial concerns.

Noted urban planner David Rusk has analyzed this disadvantage and found that the communities with the least governmental fragmentation are the ones that are succeeding. He suggests that choosing the right "home" as the ruler is key.

His recommendation for New York State is the county. By giving Erie County authority for regional planning, land use, tax collection and distribution, we would be able to leverage our value at a level that is competitive with comparable regions with metropolitan governments such as Memphis, Indianapolis, Jacksonville and Columbus.

Until we are willing to give up our little fiefdoms of power, Western New York is not likely to see the economic progress being enjoyed elsewhere.

Andrew R. Graham

Co-chairman, Sprawl/Transportation Task Force, VOICE-Buffalo

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Local residents display true Christmas spirit

It is such a pleasure to know that there are kind, honest people in our community. How wonderful it was of the young couple who found $3,000 and were honest enough to go to the police and turn it in. They should be commended, and know that is the true spirit of Christmas.

The kindness of Dan DeWitt and his helper to clear debris from the storm for the Angielczyks was outstanding. It feels great to know there are such wonderful people in our community. I am proud to be a resident of Western New York.

Lucy Wargo

Blasdell

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Country is becoming less united every day

Americans should ponder the civil wars that befell Yugoslavia and now Iraq, because that is our future. We have allowed vast numbers of alien people into our country. The "United" States of America is becoming less united every day. It is only a matter of time before a second Civil War destroys us.

Richard D. Fuerle

Grand Island

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