I imagine that by now, news of the shooting that killed six people and injured three others in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, has reached everyone. For those who haven’t yet heard, the shooting occurred at a Sikh temple, Sunday morning August 5th. Coming only two weeks after the Aurora, Colorado shooting, it is hard to find words to respond to yet another, similar tragedy. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, politicians and citizens have to add to their respective sides of the gun-control debate.
The shooter was Wade Michael Page, a 40 year old army veteran and apparently, may have been a white supremacist. No big surprise, but he also had a criminal record showing a DUI conviction in 1999 in Colorado as well as a 1994 conviction in Texas for “criminal mischief.” It is said, according to an official from the Pentagon, that he was also discharged from the military in 1998 for “patterns of misconduct.” At this time, FBI officials are not sure of his motive in the shooting, and are looking into whether this was an act of domestic terrorism.
As mentioned, the shooting occurred at a Sikh temple. Sikhs, the followers of Sikhism-a monotheistic religion founded in the Punjab region in India-as the name suggests, are not Muslims. According to the article however, Sikh men have been subject to hate crimes ever since 9/11 because they also often wear turbans and have long beards. Women followers of Sikhism apparently do not have to adhere to a strict dress code, as Muslims generally do, but sometimes may wear a head-covering. Since the motive for the shooting is not entirely clear at this point, it can’t be said definitively whether this was a hate crime, although it seems likely to me.
President Obama has responded to the shootings promising support in the investigation and solidarity for the Sikh’s throughout the nation saying they are “a part of our broader American family” and have “enriched” our nation.
After this incident, I would expect the controversies regarding our constitutional right to own a weapon, to become more heated. Page is said to have legally owned the gun found on the scene of the shooting. But, I have little faith that any gun laws will experience major changes and the voices for better enforcement of existing gun laws will prevail. If you haven’t already formed an opinion with relation to the gun-control debate, have you now? What do you think?