President Obama Unveils Tough Gun Laws, Cites Oak Creek Sikh Massacre

President Barack Obama signs executive orders initiating 23 separate executive actions after announcing new measures to help prevent gun violence, in the South Court Auditorium of Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC, January 16, 2013

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Washington, DC – Noting that the “right to worship freely and safely, that right was denied to Sikhs in Oak Creek, Wisconsin,”  President Barack Obama unveiled a list of sweeping proposals to reduce gun violence declaring that the United States “can’t put this off any longer.”

With the children in attendance who wrote to him after last month’s massacre of 20 primary school students and six adults and asked him to do something about the gun violence, President Obama presented the plan at the White House on January 16.

“For the men and women in big cities and small towns who fall victim to senseless violence each and every day. For all the Americans who are counting on us to keep them safe from harm. Let’s do the right thing. Let’s do the right thing for them, and for this country that we love so much,” concluded Obama.

Obama’s proposals come in the wake of numerous sanguinary shootings across the US and are asking lawmakers to enact laws to require background checks on every gun buyer, ban military-style assault weapons, and outlaw high-capacity ammunition clips.

Although Obama announced several measures using the presidential powers, including adding mental health data to background checks, tightening restrictions on gun ownership, and improving school safety, the president minced no words in accepting that only Congress can effect real change. “To make a real and lasting difference, Congress must act,” Obama said, adding, “And Congress must act soon.”

Last time Congress approved a ban on assault weapons was in 1994, that was allowed to expire in 2004.

The present proposals are based on the findings of a White House task force formed last month that met with gun rights groups, victims, gun control advocates and religious groups, among others.

Rajwant Singh, Chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, was among the 12 diverse leaders who met with Vice President Joe Biden in an earlier White House meeting.

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.”

US law enforcement officials labeled the fatal incident at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin as an act of terrorism, where six members of the Sikh community were gunned down on August 5, 2012 and many others injured, including a police officer, by Wade Michael Page, a white supremacist gunman. 

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