A Sikh Stance on Gun Control

Guest Blogged by Nina Chanpreet Kaur

The year 2012 has been a series of heartbreaks. There is perhaps no greater pain than surviving a child. From Oak Creek, WI to the children whose lives were innocently lost in Newtown, CT and the millions of others who die as victims of violence every day, my heart breaks. So far, our response as a nation in the wake of Friday’s tragedy has beenmessyandpresumptuous, but alsoclear and action-orientedat times. Deep pain, anguish, grief and conflict tend to have that affect: forcing us into action beyond our own daily lives and bringing us a greater sense of clarity.

In the wake of Sandy Hook, conversations about mental health, gun control laws and the root of violence in our schools, homes and communities continue to flash before our eyes. In response, we each do what we know best — for some it is grappling with a new world view to make space for such loss, for others it is taking time to grieve and release anxiety, and for several more it is taking quick action. So far, theSandy Hook tragedy has transformed the views of somepoliticiansand community members alike — Sikh Americans included. I am hopeful that this will bring increased attention and action to the problem of gun violence that also deeply affects the Sikh community.

Sikhs at Newtown, CT vigil

Sikhs at Newtown, CT vigil

The Sikh American community has responded to Sandy Hook byattendingandorganizingvigils across the country. A young Sikh boy imparted abeautiful messageto the deceased children and national community, sharing his condolences. The Kalekas, who lost their father and members of their sangat to the tragedy in Oak Creek, have organized a movement around the filmNursery Crimesand met on Monday on the steps of City Hall in New York City along with Mayor Bloomberg and other politicians demanding gun control. They plan to travel with survivors from Oak Creek, Aurora and Columbine to Newtown, CT to lend a helping hand. Both Amardeep and Pardeep Kaleka have been instrumental in shining light on theroots of violence and hateand taking quick action. Producing several videos, erectingServe 2 Uniteand building a movement around Nursery Crimes are among a few of their many tremendous efforts. We need more Sikhs who are willing to speak up about the issue of gun control and systemic violence.

Though disturbing and shocking, the Sandy Hook shooting does not come as a surprise. Turn on the TV, watch the news, read the headlines passing by–America teaches violence. It pervades our society and homes. Both the media and the U.S. military play a role in its perpetration. Everyday, acts of violence around the world including those that take place on U.S. soil, particularly those in communities of color, go unnoticed by the broader American public and mainstream media. In fact, gun violence disproportionately impacts people of color in the United States especially children and teens from those communities. A disproportionate amount of perpetrators of mass shootings are white men. The perpetrators of this years gun rampages from Aurora to Oak Creek and Newton all telling examples. Moreover, violence in America very much has its roots in white supremacy.

Policy and gun control regulations alone won’t solve the problem. Attacking the roots of systemic violence, particularly hate-based violence that plagues our community, are not easily solved by policy itself, and anyone would be foolish to argue that. In addition, gun control regulations create a gray area for the 2nd amendment. For Sikhs, it is not easy to integrate our Guru’s demand that we fight justice by any means necessary with a clear stance on gun control. Though we all have differing stances on gun control and how much of it we need, what’s clear and has been clear for a while to those of us tuned in: we need a better set of regulations and we need them now. I am not suggesting we ban the right to bear arms entirely. I am suggesting we set some seriously effective regulations on those rights, and we do so now. I am hoping a more evolved, reflective and elegant conversation will emerge about the Guru’s vision and how we can look to the Sikh Gurus for a better response in light of recent world events. I am also hoping we will begin to look at systemic violence.

Several countries around the globe, most notablyJapanand theUK,have succeeded in reducing gun related deaths and violence through tightening regulations. This, along with thesystemic nature of violence in the U.S.(read: U.S. military) andstaggering statistics of deaths related to gun violence, proves the need for increased gun control more than anything else. Given that so many Sikh Americans have been the victims of gun violence, especially in the wake of Oak Creek, I am surprised that more Sikhs aren’t taking a stand for increased gun control or forming large groups to organize around the issue as well as systemic violence. By addressing only one aspect of the issue, the issue of bias and hate based motives, we cannot fully solve the problem.

During the process of organizing the NYC vigil, I received a big NO! when I expressed my desire to activate a gun control stance. Over the last few days, I have witnessed several charged conversations in our community about gun control and I am left wondering if it is our fear of taking a stance and being unpopular or, in the case of organizations, loosing funding…or if the right to bear arms for some Sikhs is associated with what they perceive to be their right to self-defense in the face of gun violence…or if other Sikhs view the right to bear arms as somewhat related to their right to carry a kirpan, although I believe that is an entirely separate issue.

Regardless, until more of us join hands with others both inside and outside of our community to combat systemic and cyclical violence, we will bury many more children and loved ones at our feet. If you do not support increased gun control, I would like to know how you plan to stop the alarming and increasing rate of deaths due to gun violence. I would also like to know what you would say to the families of those who died in defense of the rights of gun owners.

 


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20 Responses to “A Sikh Stance on Gun Control”

  1. Guest says:

    Based on the title I was expecting a lot more discussion of how this relates to Sikhi – particularly the fact that we carry the kirpan.

    I'm also interested in your thoughts on how the right to carry a kirpan and the right to bear arms are separate issues?

    Is it because guns existed in the 1600s and the Gurus would have know about them, and yet they didn't make them part of our garb?

    Well I don't want to put words into your mouth – definitely would be interested to hear more though.

  2. sant sipahi says:

    What exactly would a "Sikh" stance on gun control look like? Would it be something universal, applicable wherever Sikhs live? Or something particular to Sikhs in the U.S.? Because gun laws in the U.S. are very particular.

    Or maybe we should think of a conscientious gun control policy for conscientious people?

  3. Narinder Singh says:

    What do we mean by gun control? Would that include law enforcement agencies or just civilians? If it's the latter, I can understand why many Sikhs aren't speaking out. Through their experiences, they have little reason to believe that governments and their agencies will always work in the interests of the people.

    Sikhs relying on the government for protection is a fairly recent phenomenon.

  4. Mr Future says:

    WJJK WJKF

    There is too much discussion on guns, and not enough discussion on the actual causes of violence. Gun control may or may not help control violence. America may or may not have a very poor policy vis-a-vis firearms. But all of this is moot compared to the fact that America, and the rest of the developed world, are not taking mental health seriously enough. Especially America, with its notoriously-poor privatised health system in which psychological therapy is nothing but a luxury for the wealthy. A truly insane society is being brought up without a thought, one based on endless consumption, instant self-gratification and constant competition.

  5. […] now, I want to pick up the conversation where Nina left off. Indeed, heartbreak is the right word for how I’m feeling about the deaths of children and […]

  6. punnu says:

    Actually the problem is guns. Mental health is also an important issue (but not the root issue, deeper still is a culture of violence that engenders mental disturbance) but regardless of mental health, you can't have a mass shooting without guns. There is no other readily available means by which a human being can kill thirty other human beings in a matter of minutes. You can't do it with a knife, you can't do it with your bare hands. Without readily available semi-automatic weapons (you can buy a Bushmaster AR-15 semi-automatic rifle from Wal-Mart) mass shootings cannot happen.

    Given the NRA's press conference today calling for armed police in every school in America, I think we can say that the gun lobby (and along with the conservative movement in America) has finally reached its nadir. Now is the time for conscientious people (both Sikh and non-Sikh) to make their voices heard, to press the issues with politicians who have too craven to act on the common sense of their constituents, bought and sold as they are by the gun lobby.

  7. ninachanpreet says:

    @punni @mr future i think it's all of the above. not one or the other. we need to address gun control. as we also need to address mental health. if we don't address both – and all the other factors that perpetuate violence in our society – we will get nowhere.

  8. Tejinder says:

    Controlling guns is like miss spelling with a pencil and expecting to become a better speller by switching to a pen.

    scenario: A suburban boy is 10yrs old buys medal of honor/ COD plays it for 2-3 hrs per day after school. Liberal mom and dad believe God day is only sunday and all else is except-able 6/7 days. The boy now moves from private to general status because online he has improved his shooting skills and (mind you not with lazer fake guns but with real world weapons. digital weapons designed by some of biggest weapons producers in America with gaming as the new marketing trend, followed by replica airsoft and pellet guns). Oh yeah lets not leave out the US military which gives tips to gaming world on how to make the games more realistic. Friday night movies with the family how about Saw1-4, how about sunday night the walking dead for family entertainment. Now the boy turns 18 has been desensitized to violence, is starting to face modern world stresses of life, and is the legal age to buy at the least a shot gun. But since there are ~300M gun in the hands of the American public he already has a few from mom and dad.

    Look the issues is much greater then just "guns". I own plenty of them for sport and defense, and have put them in the hands of probably over 50 Sikh Americans who also are now proud owners and stand in their defense. I simple sprinkler pipe with caps and explosive material from house hold goods can do equal damage as a gun so should we shut down home depot?
    The problem is'nt that the Kid went crazy and shot his mom and himself the problem is why the heck did he decide to take out a class full of kids before he killed himself. What drove him to kill others? Regarding Sikhs and guns, well some us just haven't forgotten what governments "democracies" are capable after 28 years.

  9. Jim says:

    We need more responsible people armed while tightly controlling access to firearms by those members of society who pose a risk to themselves and others for reasons of mental health, criminal record, drug abuse, etc. I can't believe Sikhs wanting to disarm themselves… as part of the bargain of U.S. citizenship, you have to take the Bill of Rights in it's totality, and that means Freedom of Speech and the Right to Keep and Bear Arms are paramount. Without those first two Amendments, the rest that follow are irrelevant. http://www.naturalnews.com/038471_Bill_of_Rights_
    It's more a mental health and crime issue in the U.S. Millions legally and responsibly own firearms in the U.S. It's a fundamental right. There is a lot that can be done without wasting time and energy on futile attempts to do away with the 2nd Amendment.

  10. ninachanpreet says:

    @jim, i do not see anyone above in the comment feed or any part of the article advocating doing away with the 2nd amendment. it is as you say, a necessity to tightly control access to firearms among many other issues – mental health included but only a part of the bigger picture and issue.

  11. Hannah Naomi says:

    Kahlon was elder though his needed elder care but it was not happen. I think every elder people should take elder care by his community or family as his son's or daughter. Whatever, I want to know more detail about Kahlon slain.