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A display of handguns at Wanstall's Hunting & Shooting in Maple Ridge, B.C., on May 31.JENNIFER GAUTHIER/Reuters

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Guns and rosés

Re Best Shot (Letters, May 31): Frank Malone’s letter praises all efforts to rid the country of handguns. His message is clear: No civilian should own a handgun. This approach leaves no room for common sense.

Born in the 1940s, some 900 kilometres north of Toronto, I lived in a different world. Every family had a long gun because sometimes a brazen bear would act in a threatening way. Most years the gun was never fired.

A handgun was necessary wherever a long gun was impractical. Forest workers couldn’t have a shotgun strapped to themselves all day. Trappers didn’t want to carry a rifle for the miles of trails they followed.

I myself have been approached by bears. On one occasion I had to use a gun. On another, a bear saw me, and ran at me. I did not have a gun, but I had a banger that was loaded with a 12-gauge shotgun shell. I fired it, and, luckily, the bear decided to do a U-turn.

Our Prime Minister has taken a wise position by planning to allow handguns in special circumstances. Kudos to Mr. Trudeau.

Canada is a big place.

Hugh McKechnie Newmarket, Ont.

“There simply is no justification for civilian ownership of a handgun” states a letter-writer, repeating what this page has said on numerous occasions. The same can be said for the glass of chardonnay I will enjoy tonight. I will wait, no doubt with waning expectation, for this page to now enthusiastically endorse banning the noxious substance that by a significant factor kills more Canadians, destroys more families and consumes more scarce health resources than handguns (legal or illegal) ever will. Slainte!

Michael Colborne Toronto

Re Ottawa to Halt Handgun Sales, Imports, But Stops Short Of Total Ban (May 31): In the wake of two horrific mass shootings that occurred in another country, the federal government has wasted little time in seizing the opportunity to further disarm the public here. This is the same government that three months ago invoked the Emergencies Act for the first time in history, giving themselves the power to arrest and freeze the bank accounts of citizens without a warrant in order to break up what was for all intents and purposes a political protest. At what point do we cross the line between being a free country and being a police state?

Jonathan Klein Calgary

To deny gun ownership for self-defence is simply a step toward totalitarian governance. In a standoff with a criminal, when seconds count, the police are useless except to come after the crime and surround the area with yellow tape. I do not support this infantilizing of Canadians by politicians who protect themselves by using armed police.

Jiti Khanna Vancouver

It occurs to me that while guns do provide the opportunity to kill more people in a shorter time than a weapon like a knife, one of the causes of higher gun violence has to be the level of societal disaffection, division and anger. While I applaud changes to gun legislation such as red flag laws and banning assault weapons and handguns, we also need to pay attention to mental-health supports and societal divisions. Our political parties and their representatives should tone down their rhetoric and learn to work together for the greater good.

Lin Mackrael Ancaster, Ont.

Road forward

Re Proposed Highway 413 Outside Of Toronto Paves Divide Between Farmers, Developers (May 27): If Ontario’s Highway 413 proposal survives the environmental assessments, which could take two to three years, it will take several more years to build. And it will cost at least $10-billion.

If Doug Ford’s government negotiated with the private owners of Highway 407 instead, they could have subsidized transponders available to truckers within a few months.

The congestion problem – the main reason Highway 413 is being proposed – would be addressed immediately, and it would cost much less. It’s a no-brainer. Why doesn’t the government do it? Are they bowing to pressure from developers?

Harvey Kolodny Orangeville, Ont.

Doug Ford’s determination to pave over some of Ontario’s most productive farmland and continue urban sprawl is an unfortunate choice. If he is serious about ensuring plentiful food production, Mr. Ford should face down the short-term greed of developers and construction executives and establish new policies that lead to multiple-family housing within our current urban centres.

One needs only to drive out from our urban centres to see that the farms adjacent to cities in Canada fall into disrepair as the owners realize that their land will soon be paved over. These fertile acres adjacent to high-population areas should be developed to ensure a plentiful supply of a wide variety of foods.

Mr. Ford has demonstrated his ability to take firm stands on managing the pandemic over the past four years. Surely he has the strength to listen to agricultural scientists, land-use planners and environmental scientists, and do what is sensible, just as he listened to public health and medical scientists in his first term.

Ted Burnside, Professor Emeritus University of Guelph, Ottawa

Monumental plans

Re How A Plan To Tear Down A Soviet War Monument Is Sparking Tensions In Latvia (May 31): I agree with Latvians who want to dismantle a Soviet war memorial in Riga. But please, Latvians, this is not the right time.

In 2007, after a Soviet war memorial in central Tallinn was relocated to a less conspicuous location, Russian cyberattacks paralyzed Estonian banks, the media, businesses, government and military networks.

The political situation in the Baltics had been reasonably calm, but today, with a war by Russia invading Ukraine, the situation is very different. Dismantling the Soviet war memorial in Riga at this time will endanger the security of Latvia, and its Baltic neighbours.

Reiner Jaakson Oakville, Ont.

The dilemma of what to do with Soviet-era statuary was handled brilliantly in Hungary in the early 1990s by placing them on public display in a “Memento Park” in Budapest – and charging admission. Problem solved.

Paul Thiessen Vancouver

Only rock ‘n’ roll

Re New Rolling Stones Album Marks Canada’s Coming Of Age (Arts and Pursuits, May 28): Brad Wheeler’s article brings back memories for this 70-year-old. I lived on Huron Street, around the corner from the El Mocambo, where the Stones were performing, and by the time the local whispers on Spadina Avenue found me I could only watch the lineup and the arrival of the band. No matter how I wished and wandered the street, I was not going to see my favourite band.

Thanks for this great story.

Douglas MacLean Canmore, Alta.

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