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Guns and terrorism, American style

Six Sikhs have died in a gurdwara in Milwaukee thanks to an angry white supremacist named Wade Michael Page, who authorities say barged in there with an assault rifle and shot worshipers down in cold blood ("Shooter had hate-group ties," Aug. 7). In what can only be described as a tragic irony, the killer once worked as a psychological operations specialist in the army. To have that job, soldiers must show a special interest in foreign countries, cultures and languages and be adept at building a rapport with people in unfamiliar surroundings. If the army was right to pick this goon for his job, then he would have been in the gurdwara to discuss with Sikh leaders how best he could help build bridges between them and the rest of the Milwaukee community. Obviously, the army goofed when it picked Mr. Page to do what he did. It is chilling to contemplate that the army's aptitude test was so off the mark. The shooter, it is clear now, hated foreigners and devoted a good portion of his adult life to disseminating his idiotic belief that whites are superior to others.

In this country, it is too easy for angry, disturbed and misguided young men to obtain assault weapons with many rounds of ammunition. James Holmes was able to do it on the Internet. In the face of consecutive attacks and mass murders, Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama have expressed their sympathies to the families of the slaughtered, without facing down the NRA and its insane arming of America. This is a testament to the power of guns, weapons and lobbyists over the American political psyche.

The level of violence in our country perpetrated using guns obtained legally is absolutely shocking. It is desensitizing us to the barbarism in our daily existence, tearing our civic fabric, imbuing us with terror and abridging our freedom to assemble in public places.

The premise of gun lovers, that law abiding citizens should shoot those who would shoot them and they can do that only if armed and ready with weapons concealed and carried, is so specious a logic as to deserve universal rejection and contempt. Our politicians dance to this nonsense like puppets on a string. Soldiers who survived Afghanistan and Iraq have been gunned down on the streets of America. This is a cause for shame and yet the tired old refrain from gun lovers is that guns are not to blame because it is people who kill people.

In America, people with guns and assault weapons are killing more people more ruthlessly and more efficiently than people who venture to kill with knives, daggers, swords and various other implements combined. Mass murders of the scale perpetrated in Aurora, Colo. are not possible without assault weapons in the hands of deranged megalomaniacs and malcontents. Yet, all that President Obama can say on the subject is that we don't need new gun laws and we need to enforce existing ones. If enforcement of existing laws is what will save America from the current state of gun mayhem, what is the president doing to make sure that happens and why is it not happening already?

I extend my condolences to the Sikh community. The Sikhs are a proud, handsome, adventurous and accomplished people who are assets to America. They are the athletes, the soldiers and the successful farmers of India. They helped build the Punjab into a powerhouse and contributed to India's green revolution. Many Sikhs are saying after Sept. 11 they have been subjected to harassment and threats because parochial and ignorant Americans have turbaned Sikhs confused with Islamic terrorists. But when the Sikhs are defining themselves as distinctly different from Muslims to deter attacks, I am afraid they are on the wrong track. By saying to the ignoramuses of America, "Please don't attack us, we are not militant Muslims," the Sikhs are indulging in an exercise in futility and also diminishing themselves.

Instead, Sikhs should stand together with Muslims to stop violence against all Americans. They should write to President Obama and ask him to go beyond sympathizing with the families of the victims of gun violence and put his money where his mouth is by openly opposing the gun lobby's agenda. They should canvass Asians to withhold their vote for candidates who twist and turn the Second Amendment so America will be armed to the teeth. In close political races, the Asian vote could make a difference. I say, throw out politicians who genuflect to the gun lobby.

Usha Nellore, Bel Air

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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