Take Action To Make Kirpan Education Bill Into Law

Kirpan1-150x150.jpgThe California legislator has unanimously passed a Kirpan Education Bill (AB 504) through both houses (Assembly & Senate); it is now headed to Governor Schwarzenegger’s desk. This bill, carried by Assemblymember Warren Furutani (D-Long Beach) and other co-sponsors, will only become law if the California Governator signs off on it. AB 504 is a historic bill because it is the only piece of legislation in America that focuses on Sikhs and our kirpan. Furthermore, the bill is being pushed through the law-making process in California-a state with the oldest and largest number of Sikhs in America.

The Kirpan Education Bill (AB 504) requires that all California law enforcement officers be trained on Sikhs and our kirpan. This training would teach California law enforcement officers about Sikhs and the importance of our religiously mandated articles of faith. Sikhs wearing a kirpan are often disrespectfully approached by law enforcement officers and arrested for concealed weapons charges. Often law enforcement officers will pull Sikhs over for minor traffic violations or safety concerns and as soon as officers see the kirpan the situation is escalated into a criminal offense; although the Sikh was only practicing his/her faith. These officers are unaware that the kirpan is a religious mandated article of faith-a gift from our Guru that we wear with care, respect, and love.

Arresting Sikhs with a criminal charge for carrying a kirpan is a waste of state resources. Consistently, judges have found that Sikhs arrested for concealed weapons charges were wearing their kirpans as part of their religious practice and had benign intent. Officers need to be educated about this issue in order to effectively use their time and other state resources to productively police Californians.

If you live in California there are numerous ways you can help the Sikh Coalition make this bill into law.
Here are three ways you can help BEFORE September 18th:

1. Call Governor Schwarzenegger’s office at (916) 445-2841 and ask to speak with a staff member about AB 504. When the person comes on the line, let them know that you are a California resident and a Sikh, and you urge the Governor to sign AB 504 on behalf of your community.

2. If you belong to an organized group or gurdwara based in California, please have the organization draft a letter of support for the bill to Governor Schwarzenegger. All signed letters of support should be sent to [email protected]

3. Reach out to your political contacts to see if anyone can arrange a meeting for you with the Governor or his staff. If you are able to get the meeting, let the Governor know what this bill means to our community and how important it will be to sign it.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to the Sikh Coalition at [email protected] or at 510.659.0900 (ext. 93).

Take action today to protect the Sikh way of life in California!

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