By Lalit K Jha
Washington, Oct 3 Indian-American lawmakers have called for changes in the gun control laws in the US, as they condemned the Las Vegas mass shooting, the deadliest in the country's modern history which claimed nearly 60 lives.
Gun violence is a public health crisis that has claimed thousands of innocent lives and the Congress must do everything it can to address it, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal said, hours after a gunman opened fire on a large crowd during a music concert in Las Vegas.
The American people are tired of being outraged, sending thoughts and prayers, seeing men, women and children die because the gun lobby does put profit over people, Jayapal said during her speech on the floor of the US House of Representatives yesterday.
"That is not what our founders intended by the 'right to bear arms'," the first-time lawmaker from Washington State said, as she joined several of her Congressional colleagues calling for changes in gun control laws.
"With rights come responsibilities: the responsibility to stop gun sales loopholes, to enact protections that make sure our children and those with severe mental illnesses don't have access to guns, to address funding for mental health, and to oppose any efforts to make it easier to purchase silencers," Jayapal said.
The first ever Indian-American women elected to the House of Representatives said 87 per cent of gun owners and 74 per cent of NRA members support those commonsense solutions like criminal background checks.
"I have a plea for gun owners across this country: Urge the non-resident aliens (NRA) to represent your views. Show them that you mean business by speaking out or even terminating your NRA membership. Show that you care about your fellow Americans," she said.
She added: "Act now. Enough is enough."
The Las Vegas shooting on Sunday night, in which at least 59 people were killed and more than 500 wounded, has rekindled the debate on gun control laws in the US.
Nearly 12,000 Americans have been killed by guns in 273 mass shootings in 2017 so far – one incident for each day, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a not-for-profit corporation that tracks gun-related violence in the US.
On an average, more than 90 Americans lose their lives to gun violence every day, a daily toll of heartbreak and tragedy in communities across the US.
Other Indian-American Congressmen too joined Jayapal in condemning the incident.
No community should have to fear going to the movies, a concert, or dropping their child off at school, said Ami Bera, the three-term Congressman from California.
"In the wake of this tragedy, I hope we'll all be able to take the time to look for the helpers and that each of us, in our own way, will seek to help our nation heal, move forward, and work to prevent similar tragedies," Raja Krishnamoorthi, Democrat Congressman from 8th district Illinois, said.
"We must end this senseless violence," said Congressman Ro Khanna, Democrat Congressman from 17th district California.
In a statement, UNITED SIKHS condemned the "senseless act" of terror.
Its volunteers have teamed with Gurdwaras, where shelter, hot meals (langar) and other assistance is being offered to all who may need it.
Sikh taxi drivers are volunteering to drive people to their destinations safely, it said.