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HindustanTimes Sun,31 Aug 2014

US Sikhs hail Obama's gun-control measures

PTI  Washington, January 17, 2013
First Published: 20:13 IST(17/1/2013) | Last Updated: 20:15 IST(17/1/2013)

Welcoming the gun-control steps taken by President Barack Obama, the Sikh community in the US has asked the Congress to support his proposals, saying that too many innocent people have become victims of these senseless killings.

"The Sikh community, while empathising with the victims of Sandy Hook (school shooting), supports President Obama's initiative to take measures to stop the proliferation of deadly weapons in the American society," said Rajwant Singh, chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education.

Singh was among the select individuals invited for the White House event wherein Obama signed an executive directive for gun control.

Obama proposed sweeping gun-control measures, including universal background check and ban on assault weapons, hoping that these would bring an end to deadly incidents such as the Wisconsin gurdwara shooting and Connecticut school firing.

"We used to feel that places of worship are safe and we had a gurdwara being attacked in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and six lives were taken away… we thought schools are safe and we have 20 tender-aged children snatched away from their loved ones. This is not the way to create a harmonious and loving nation," Singh said.

"We are in support of any move to restrict the easy availability of assault weapons and we appeal to the Congress to step in and show real leadership in this hour of need. It is a moral obligation to create safety for all, particularly our young ones," Singh said.

The Sikh community was invited by Vice-President Joe Biden, as part of his efforts to consult people and organisations across the country on gun-control laws.

"On February 5, Sikhs will observe the six-month anniversary of the shooting at the gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Gurdwaras across the nation will observe it with prayers for all victims of gun violence in the US and will ask congregants to contact their representatives to support gun-control legislation," he said.

Rajwant Singh, as a Sikh leader, also signed a letter urging the Congress to take action on this issue. This letter was coordinated and released by Faiths United To Prevent Gun Violence on Wednesday in Washington DC.

"We are in support of the second amendment of owning the gun for safety or for recreational use, but at the same time, would like to see the stoppage of deadly weapons getting in the hands of mentally-ill individuals. Mental health is an important component, which ought to be part of the equation," Singh said.

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