Name the dead
A Second Amendment memorial should be established in Washington in the spirit of the Vietnam memorial. Each year, the names of those killed as a result of firearms could be added and the nation could pay its appropriate respects.
The right to bear arms is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. As a result, we know that innocent Americans will die violently. More large-scale and high-profile tragedies like Denver, Arizona or Columbine are inevitable (71 People Shot, 12 Fatally At Colorado Theatre’s Batman Premiere – July 20). Thousands more killings occur annually that don’t capture the headlines.
These deaths are the price of the Second Amendment, a price American society is willing to pay. But these victims should be recognized as people who have given their lives for their country.
Bill Gillies, Oakville, Ont.
What mirrors tell us
Torontonians should ask themselves what they are doing to solve the problem of gang violence. Here is an example. Young immigrants from Somalia in the 1990s saw their parents, despite all their efforts and the help of all levels of governments, struggling with unemployment.
Why? Because “Toronto the Good” is racist. Not in an outspoken way. In a quiet, nasty way. I am not black and I don’t come from a poor country. Yet I felt the discrimination when I came here. If you don’t have the proper accent, the proper culture, the proper colour of skin, people turn their back on you.
So instead of blaming governments, we should look at ourselves in a mirror. Because there is gang violence in Toronto. And gang violence comes from despair. And despair comes from solitude. And solitude comes from our attitude.
Thomas Gallezot, Toronto
There are many communities in this country whose members are also poor and unemployed, and they don’t turn to guns and gangs to solve their problems.
People have to stop blaming others and the government for their problem and start blaming themselves. They have to face their own shortcomings and tackle the problems from within their own community.
Claude Gannon, Markham, Ont.
Re Toronto Mayor Ford Clarifies His Comments On Gun Criminals And Immigration (July 20): As a proud immigrant Canadian, I am even more sorry that I voted for Rob Ford.
There are good and bad people in every society. If Mr. Ford thinks tarring all immigrants with the same brush is his magic crime-fighting bullet, then I am afraid he is firing blanks. Unfortunately, his only contribution will be to divert attention away from the real problems. This letter is itself an example – we should be writing about how to deliver hope to the youth being sucked into gangs, not the mayor’s flights of fancy.
Ajay Rao, Toronto
When there is no income, drugs become the economy. Drug-selling territory is protected with violence. It’s obvious by age 10 which boys are troubled. Teachers know which ones are at risk. Giving those boys one-on-one mentorship leading to employment is cheaper than lawyers and jail.
Barbara Klunder, Toronto
In my 20 years experience working with families, I have seen a steady decline in family cohesiveness, and in societal response to it.
Obviously there are many single mothers who are doing an excellent job raising good children, and there are many poor families that have raised excellent citizens.
The rising number of suicides on our reserves or the escalating violence in our cities are but symptoms of a society breaking under the burden of consumerism, selfishness, glorification of violence in pop culture/media, and disintegrating ethical and spiritual values.
We are surely witnessing a decline in inner contentment, communal responsibility and value of human dignity and life. There is no simple answer and no one cause. The reversal of this trend requires the coming together of all Canadians for a singular purpose – to purge violence from our home, our communities and our society. This should be our priority. Anything less is useless.
Shahina Siddiqui, president, Islamic Social Services Association, Winnipeg
Hire education’s value?
While Jeffrey Simpson is correct in assessing the value of a university degree, he does not delve into the reasons why it should be so (A University Degree’s Value Is Incontestable – July 20). The more obvious reasons include a proven ability to focus, conceptualize, carry out research and use language in reading and writing reports. But perhaps the most important element is that those who do the hiring are pressured to hurry the process along and keep costs down.
The way they do this is to ignore any application from someone without a degree. It sometimes appears that a degree, any degree, is the new equivalent of a high-school graduation certificate. Often, it is obvious that a degree is not really relevant to the position offered. How many great candidates miss out because of this shortcut?
Colin Lowe, Nanaimo, B.C.
End the bias
It is disappointing that Canoe Kayak Canada has not been supportive of women’s sprint canoe at the Olympics (Female Canoe Racer Takes Olympic Inequality To Court – July 19). Male canoe racers on Canada’s senior national team are eligible for funding from Sport Canada and receive extensive support, including free university tuition, physiotherapy and coaching. There is no equivalent support for women, the argument being that women’s canoe is not an Olympic sport.
It’s time to end this bias. Canadian women are ready and competitive, as are women in other countries. Canada could expect to do very well in this event given the chance. Let’s make sure that women’s canoe is in the 2016 Olympics.
Kathy Clarke, Oakville, Ont.
Garage sale sleuths
Margaret Wente’s column (Protecting Us To Death – July 16) may left have the impression that Health Canada routinely inspects personal garage sales. That is not the case.
When enforcing the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act, Health Canada inspectors focus their efforts where there is the highest risk. For the potential risks posed by certain second-hand products that might be sold at garage sales, such as old cribs and bassinets, Health Canada emphasizes consumer education, providing Canadians with the information they need to make smart choices about the products they buy.
Health Canada inspectors will not be showing up at garage sales, unless the department has received a complaint that gives it reason to believe there is a health and safety concern that merits follow-up.
We focus inspection efforts on flea markets, pawn shops, and thrift stores – retailers that are in the regular business of selling second-hand products; not Canadians who occasionally hold a garage sale.
Hilary Geller, assistant deputy minister, Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch, Health Canada