Washington: Members of the Sikh community joined other religious leaders in urging the US Congress to pass strict gun control laws to prevent the recent surge in gun violence in the country, including the one at a Wisconsin Gurdwara in 2012. The religious leaders gathered on the National Mall in Washington on Friday amidst a makeshift graveyard -- 3,300 grave markers in all representing the number of people who have died in gun violence since December's massacre in Newtown -- to emphasise the huge toll of gun violence in America.
"This is one of the clearest examples of a stark democratic choice: the old politics of guns or the morality of the common good. The clergy are here today for the common good," said Jim Wallis, CEO of Sojourners, a faith based Christian group, who put together the gathering. Besides wooden crosses, placards printed with the symbols of other religious traditions - Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Sikhism were visible at the gathering. Dr Rajwant Singh, chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, recited a Sikh prayer calling for end to 'senseless violence' and appealed to political leaders to pass common sense gun restriction laws.
Dr Singh recited the prayer from Sikh Scriptures, Guru Granth Sahib 'Jagat Jalanda Rakh lay' asking God to embrace all and said, "the time has come for the nation to make sure that we raise our children with any fear of senseless violence. What kind of environment have we created where a place of worship like Sikh Gurdwara in Wisconsin and school like Sandy Hook are attacked ? That means there is no place sacred which is exempt from this kind of senseless killing. This has to stop and the action must come from Washington."
He recalled when he attended the funeral of the victims of Oak Creek Gurdwara shooting, the images of the bullet hole on the door of the sanctuary was forever etched in his mind. On August 5, 2012, a person named Wade Michael Page fatally shot six people and wounded four others in a mass shooting at a Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Later, US President Barack Obama offered his condolences, calling the Sikh community "a part of our broader American family" and First Lady Michelle Obama met the family members of the shootout victims on the sidelines of Guru Nanak Jayanti celebrations in the White House in December 2012.
"We as Sikhs need to be fully engaged in this important issue and work with all communities to make things happen," said Nihal Singh, a member of Guru Gobind Singh Foundation Gurdwara in Rockville.