With the Wisconsin Gurdwara shooting occurring just weeks after a gun massacre in a Colorado movie theatre, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg criticised President Barack Obama and Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney for avoiding the issue of gun laws, which are putting weapons in the hands
of "dangerous people".
Bloomberg visited the Sikh Cultural Society here with Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly here yesterday and expressed condolences to the victims of the attack and to the Sikh community, which he said is in shock and mourning after the killings.
Bloomberg said the city has "no tolerance to lawless violence" and irrespective of one's religion, every person has the right to be safe in his home and place of worship.
The Mayor expressed concern that the shooting in the Oak Creek Gurdwara that killed six people happened just as the nation was recovering from the shock and sadness of a massacre in Aurora, Colorado where a lone gunman James Holmes shot and killed 12 people and injured 58 others during a screening of the new batman movie 'The Dark Night Rises'.
"The two presidential candidates have not given the American people a plan to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. The fact that terrorists, mentally ill people and criminals all have easy access to guns is a national crisis", Bloomberg said.
He pointed out that everyday 34 Americans are murdered with guns and Obama and Romney "cannot continue avoiding an issue which is one of the most serious threats we face in the the security of our nation".
He described New York as the centre of Sikh life in the US and said the close knit and hardworking community is very resilient whose faith urges them to practise self discipline and good deeds towards others.
Later today, New York Representative Joe Crowley, who is a leader on Sikh-American issues in the US Congress, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and State Senator Michael Gianaris will join members of the city’s Sikh community to denounce the tragic shooting.
"While motivations of the shooter in Wisconsin are still unknown, Sikh-Americans are often the target of crimes because of their distinct identity and common misperceptions with respect to their attire and appearance," a statement said.
It added that attackers often appear to "erroneously" believe that Sikh-Americans are affiliated with extremists and were somehow responsible for the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Over the past year, Sikh-Americans and their religious institutions have been threatened or attacked in highly-publicised incidents in New York, Michigan, Virginia and California.
In April, Crowley led a letter signed by 93 members of Congress urging the FBI to document and quantify the commission of hate crimes against Sikh-Americans, it added.
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