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A vigil for victims of the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton outside the National Rifle Association's headquarters in Fairfax, Va., on Aug. 5, 2019. The mass shootings have rebooted the national discussion over gun violence policy and ignited a bitter fight between Democrats and President Donald Trump over whether his divisive rhetoric contributed to the violence.

Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times News Service

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Gun-control politics

Re On Gun Control, Liberals Are All Talk (Aug. 8): We can learn from what is happening (or rather, not happening) in the United States, where members of Congress and state politicians have prostituted themselves to the we-need-more-guns lobby. They have surrendered Americans to a future where mass murders by gun are so common, they are seldom newsworthy. (Is “10 or more” to be the rule of thumb?)

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Organized Crime Reduction Minister and former Toronto police chief Bill Blair needs to contemplate the cost of dithering. Doing nothing guarantees a surrender of the commons to those who kill.

Mr. Blair talks about the cost, but he seems to be focused only on the political cost to himself and his party. How have we managed to get to a point where there is no honour in losing in the pursuit of a just purpose?

Ab Dukacz, Mississauga

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The government’s online survey on guns was distorted by people voting multiple times.

We are told 81 per cent of respondents were against any further measures to restrict handguns, and 77 per cent saw no need to control assault weapons. Seriously? Who believes this nonsense in a self-selected survey reflects the views of the broader Canadian public? What amounts to Bill Blair’s silence on the phony results of his own discredited survey speaks volumes.

Gordon Prentice, Newmarket, Ont.

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Re It’s Time For Canada To Ban Handguns (editorial, Aug. 7): Merely possessing a handgun without a permit is already illegal.

You admit in your editorial that you have no idea if banning handguns will make any difference, yet you still call for a ban?

I suggest that we ban newspapers instead: I have no idea if it will help, but following your logic, we should try it.

Mark Decyk, Toronto

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Re Trump Visits Dayton, El Paso Amid Protests (Aug. 8): A widely used NRA slogan says, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” The idea is, “Don’t worry about the guns, sort out the problem with the people.”

We can show the shallowness of this argument by extending it to: “Nuclear bombs don’t kill people, people kill people.” So, no need to worry about A-bomb availability. Just sort out the problem with the people.

At some point, like it or not, the weapon itself becomes an issue.

Michael Peters, Guelph, Ont.

‘Dubious distinction’

Re Air Canada CEO Pockets Profit Of $52.7-Million From Stock Options (Aug. 8): How appalling.

There should be no pride at Air Canada in the dubious distinction that its chief executive officer recently put $52.7-million in his pay packet by exercising his stock options in the carrier – this while passengers are treated like sardines, and sky-high fees abound to feed Air Canada’s bottom line.

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Catherine Orion, Toronto

Ties with Saudi Arabia

Re If Elected, Conservative Party Would Restore Ties With Saudi Arabia, MP Says (Aug. 3): I find it incredible that the Conservative Party would push this as an election pledge.

This is a regime that is accused of the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, that promotes discord throughout the world and that has conducted a war in Yemen that has 13 million people on the brink of starvation. And the Conservatives feel “normalizing” relations with this regime is a good plan?

What happened to the Conservatives who stood up for those in need? For what is right? Shame on Conservative foreign affairs critic Erin O’Toole.

Dan Pearlman, Almonte, Ont.

Rethinking rail

Re Canadian High-Speed Passenger Rail Service: All Aboard? (letters, Aug. 6): VIA is subsidized by taxpayers from across Canada, yet is essentially an intercity rail service for Ontario, with services barely staggering across the provincial border to reach Montreal.

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The Toronto to Ottawa route usually has 10 taxpayer-subsidized trains each way per day; Toronto-London, seven. Two tourist trains per week arrive in Vancouver, three in the summer. Edmonton, the same. Calgary and Regina get nothing.

The West’s intercity service was the Greyhound bus line and it recently pulled out of the West after years of neglect by all levels of government.

If a high-speed rail line is to be built, let the Province of Ontario pay for it.

Fred McCague, Delta, B.C.

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After our recent train trip (Vancouver-Toronto, return), eight nights, 10 days in total, I am convinced that it is not a pipeline we need in Canada – we would be far better off designing and building a new high-speed passenger rail line. There is no way a passenger train should be using tracks meant for freight.

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Having to sit on the sidelines, waiting for freight trains to pass, then having to speed up (on tracks meant for freight trains) to make up time, resulted in a very rocky, uncomfortable ride.

Canada can do better than this!

Joyce Mainland, Kelowna, B.C.

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There has been much discussion in The Globe and Mail about developing new regional passenger train corridors. Living in Saskatchewan – where there is hardly any east-west train service, where Greyhound shuttered its national service in the West, and where there is no appropriate provincial bus service, because the Saskatchewan Transportation Company shut down – makes it hard to access transport other than motorized vehicles.

We could learn from the past when we in Saskatchewan had regular train service east and west, and internal regional passenger lines.

Canada is vast, but there should be an awareness and purpose of maintaining the fabric of the whole nation. Passenger trains are key to connecting communities all over Canada. A national train corridor should be a national strategy of development, and from that, you can build regional feeder lines.

Plus, shifting to train travel over CO2 -emitting cars and buses would be an important part of a national climate-action plan.

Don Kossick, Saskatoon

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If we’re really going to rethink our rail service, passenger and freight, it would be prudent to get freight carriers away from densely populated areas.

Our railway tracks were laid when most Canadians lived in rural areas. Hasn’t anything been learned from Lac-Mégantic? Similar trains carrying dangerous cargo still pass through urban centres, including Toronto, daily.

Toan Klein, Toronto

2019 Charter challenge

Re A True Charter Challenge: Empower Canadians With A New Bill Of Rights, And Our MPs, Too (Aug. 5): Here’s a better Charter challenge: Empower Canadians with a Bill of Responsibilities.

Ricardo Di Cecca, Burlington, Ont.

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