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HindustanTimes Wed,01 Oct 2014

US gun control: Biden meets Sikh, Hindu leaders

PTI   Washington , January 16, 2013
First Published: 22:23 IST(16/1/2013) | Last Updated: 00:22 IST(17/1/2013)

Ahead of US President Barack Obama's proposed announcement on gun-control measures, Vice-President Joe Biden has said that the steps would include universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons.

These details were provided by Biden when he invited a group of 12 leaders from various religions, including Sikh and Hindus, said Rajwant Singh, chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education.

During the meeting, Biden shared his thoughts on the White House's proposal to curb gun violence, which includes universal background checks and bans on assault weapons with a possible ammunition component.

Biden also expressed the need for faith leaders to appeal to all Americans to eventually pass a legislation that will meet that goal.

"We are looking forward to working with Biden, the Obama administration and the Congress to find a comprehensive solution that makes our society more secure where we can raise our children free from any fear of violence," Singh said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Given that a lot of gun violence is concentrated in urban and poor neighborhoods, it's the responsibility for any comprehensive approach to recognise it and to pay attention to it," said San Francisco-based Rev Michael McBride, the head of PICO National Network's Lifelines to Healing Campaign , an effort to reduce inner-city gun violence.

Leaders of Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh and Hindu religions, as well as Evangelical and Pentecostal Christian communities, were represented at the meeting, which was chaired by Joshua DuBois, head of the White House faith-based Initiative.

Among other topics raised by the faith leaders were the protection of religious buildings and religious intolerance.

"In the first week of February, Sikhs will be marking the six-month anniversary of the shooting at the Wisconsin gurdwara with a major initiative to speak against the promotion and perpetuation of indiscriminate violence in popular culture. We will offer prayers not only for victims of the Sikh community but for all victims of these senseless shootings," Singh said in the meeting.

He suggested to Biden that the nation should have a major educational initiative to teach kids against indiscriminate violence and there needed to be major push at the state and the federal level.

In addition, the ex-servicemen ought to be given mental health counselling so they do not become the target of recruitment by violent groups.

Singh also suggested that Obama should call religious leaders from across the nation to join him in this critical issue to raise the nation's consciousness.

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