January 16, 2013 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Washington, United States (January 15, 2013): Dr. Rajwant Singh, Chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, was among the 12 diverse leaders, who met with Biden in a White House meeting where the Vice President called for national faith leaders to rally their faithful in the nation’s debate regarding gun control in order to reduce gun violence.
Biden met with the faith leaders as part of a series of meetings he has hosted since he was appointed the head of the White House panel to draft a comprehensive plan to lower gun violence by President Obama. This panel was constituted immediately in the aftermath of the latest massacre — this time in Newtown, CT where a lone gunman killed 20 children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary school. In 2012, there were two other mass shootings, including a movie theatre in Aurora, CO and a Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, WI.
Biden also met with the National Rifle Association, gun control advocates, heads of video game and entertainment industries, and others.
Dr. Rajwant Singh while addressing the Vice President that “ In the first week of February, Sikhs will be marking the six month anniversary of the shooting at the Sikh Gurdwara in Wisconsin with a major initiative to speak against the promotion and perpetuation of indiscriminate violence in the popular culture. We will offer prayers not only for the victims of Sikh community but for all the victims of this senseless shootings.”
Dr. Rajwant Singh suggested to Vice President Biden that the nation should have a major educational initiative to teach kids against indiscriminate violence and there needs to be major push at the state and the federal level. In addition, the ex-servicemen ought to be given mental health counseling so they do not become target of recruitment by the violent groups.Dr. Singh also suggested that President Obama should call religious leaders from across the nation to join him in this critical issue to raise nation’s consciousness. Dr. Singh also suggested to Vice President’s staff that both the American Medical Association and American Psychiatric Association, be asked to assist in giving basic training to school staff on understanding mental illness among children and adolescents and responding to their needs.
Leaders of the Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh and Hindu religions, as well as Evangelical and Pentecostal Christian communities, were represented in this meeting which was chaired by Joshua DuBois, head of the White House faith based Initiative . Among other topics raised by the faith leaders were: protection of religious buildings and religious intolerance.
According to Dr. Singh, Biden shared some 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 legislation that will meet that goal.
Dr. Rajwant Singh said “ We are looking forward to working with Vice President Biden, the Obama administration and Congress to find the comprehensive solution that makes our society more secure where we can raise our children free from any fear of violence.”
“Given that a lot of the gun violence is concentrated in urban and poor neighborhoods, it is the responsibility for any comprehensive approach to recognize that and to pay attention to that,” 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.
Among the attendees were :Kathy A Saile from United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Vincent DeMarco, National Coordinator of Faiths United To Prevent Gun Violence, Farhana Khera, President of Muslim Advocates, Rev. Beau Underwood, Campaign manager of Sojourners, Galen Carey, Vice President of National Association of Evangelicals, Rev. Michael McBride, National Director of PICO National Network – Lifelines to Healing Campaign, and Cassandra Carmichael, Director of Washington office of National Council of Churches of Christ, and Jay Kansara, Hindu American Foundation’s Associate Director of Government Affairs.
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