Myths, Lies and Straight Talk

The government wants to say regulations and laws like the Brady Gun Control Law are making a difference, but they aren't. Some maximum security felons I spoke to in New Jersey scoffed at measures like the Brady law. They said they'll have no trouble getting guns if they want them.

A Justice Department study confirmed what the prisoners said. But get this: the felons say that the thing they fear the most is not the police, not time in prison, but, you, another American who might be armed.

It's a reason many states are passing gun un-control. They're allowing citizens to carry guns with them, it's called concealed carry or right to carry. Some women say they're comforted by these laws.

But many people, including Rev. Al Sharpton, are horrified at the idea of concealed carry laws, and predict mayhem if all states adopt these laws.

But surprise, 36 states already have concealed carry laws; and not one reported an upsurge in gun crime.

MYTH # 4 — We're Drowning in Garbage

We've been told we're running out of places to put our garbage. We do produce a lot of it — more than any other country in the world. But it's not the crisis described in so many media reports.

Analysts say this myth was jumpstarted by a 1987 story about a garbage barge on the Mississippi River.

The barge was filled with 3,000 tons of compacted trash and garbage from New York. It was supposed to have been shipped to a landfill in Louisiana, but on the way, the shipper tried to save money by dumping the trash in North Carolina.

Suspicious local officials said no thanks. Their response got so much publicity that by the time the barge reached its original destination, the Louisiana dump wouldn't accept it anymore.

The publicity over the barge ignited 10 years of activism.

Cynthia Pollack of the WorldWatch Institute said back in 1987 that we were approaching an emergency situation. But it wasn't true.

The EPA says while some cities have to ship garbage out, overall landfill capacity is actually increasing. All around America, people are building bigger landfills. Some landfill owners are competing for our trash.

Jeremy O'Brien, of the Solid Waste Association of North America, said some of his group's members are actually looking for waste.

Some communities put parks and golf courses on top of trash sites.

O'Brien said, "In the United States, there's plenty of land to properly dispose of our solid waste for hundreds and even thousands of years."

We hardly have a garbage crisis.

MYTH # 3 — We Are Destroying Our Forests

Lots of Americans feel bad when they see images of trees being cut down, because they've been told that America's running out of forestland.

Carl Ross, of the group, Save America's Forests, says we've cut way too much.

"The loss of natural forests in America is a crisis," he said. "And we will lose species forever, and they'll go extinct, if we don't take action now."

Other environmental groups run ads warning of the dire consequences.

But The U.S. Agriculture Department says America has 749 million acres of forestland. In 1920, we had 735 million acres of forest.

We have more forest now. How can that be? One reason is technology that allows us to grow five times more food per acre — so we need less farmland. Lots of what once was farmland has reverted to forest.

But Ross says we don't really have more forests. "We have more areas, in America, with trees on them, that's true. But we have less that are natural," he said.

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