It's always assualt-style weapons: an immigrant's perspective . . .

It's always assualt-style weapons: an immigrant's perspective . . .

"America is not my chosen home, not even the place of my birth.  Just a spot where it seemed safe to go to escape certain dangers.  But safety I discover, is only temporary.  No place guarantees it to anyone forever.  I have stayed because there is no other place to go."  - Irene Klepfisz, "Bashert"

I was in Vegas last weekend.  Three days after the massacre at Mandalay Bay.  I expected to find a ghost town or at least a city crawling with police sirens; 'Do Not Cross' yellow tape; and/or gun-toting security patrols. Nope. Instead, while the world watched as another American male murdered other Americans on American soil, Sin City was business as usual. The poker tables at Bellagio where I stayed were full.  The slot machines were humming.  Later that night while attending a private celebration at the Hakassan night club, I observed how quickly the dance floor got packed with young nubile bodies.  At midnight there was a line snaking outside the women's restroom.

Is it because this is America's new reality, I asked myself.  Not even surprised anymore?  Resigned resilience, as Time magazine calls it?

After Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Orlando and now Las Vegas, is the new mantra for Americans: This is even more reason to not let crazy people dictate how we live our lives and continue to live each day as if it's your last. I know I've heard many political pundits and radio/T.V. commentators espouse the same philosophy.

And yet as other immigrants will tell you, what drew us to America's shores was its capacity to protect its own.  Just like Klepfisz, I too struggled to claim America as my home after I lived through three days of 1984 when Delhi burned.  When hordes of men attacked, looted and killed Sikhs on the streets of Delhi.  My parents had seen, I had seen the police deliberately do nothing to protect Sikhs in the aftermath of violence after Indira Gandhi's death.  For three days my family prayed while we heard accounts on the radio and through the community grapevine; horrors that no 18 year-old should have to imagine.  Screaming babies put on a gas burner by angry mobs who then turned the burner on.  Turbaned passengers pulled out of buses; car tires fit over their heads and then the tires lit with a burning match.

When I met my husband five years later, the horrors of those three days were still a source of anguish to my community.  America with its fundamental democratic value that every citizen, irrespective of faith and community, has a right to life, security and justice, beckoned, and I happily immigrated.

And now, America, the land of the brave and the free, has become a country where indiscriminate shooting of innocent people is no longer a surprise event, the only mystery that seemingly remains is: Where next?  

When I ran away from my birthplace, I was fleeing government terrorism.  There was and still remains ample evidence that the mobs of 1984 were led by politicians or had the Government's tacit approval.  But this kind of mass shooting would never have happened in the country of my birth because no individual, citizen or resident can purchase an automatic or semi-automatic weapon.

Almost half of the world’s civilian-owned guns are in the hands of Americans. But those guns are not distributed equally. Many are hoarded by “super-owners,” a group of mostly-male extremists who make up just three percent of the adult American population, but own an average of 17 guns apiece.  Why do you need more than one gun? “Why do you need more than one pair of shoes?” Philip van Cleave, the president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, answered, in the Guardian.

Making more dangerous weapons available to more people increases our danger.  Americans have never been and are not helpless.  Assault rifles need to be outlawed in the U.S. as they are in India, Argentina, South Africa, Canada, Russia and other comparable nations.  It's time for voters to stop listening to 'fake' NRA news and vote for gun-safety laws.  Not laws that will take away handguns (for hunting and self-protection as guaranteed by the second Amendment of the Constitution) but a ban on assault weapons now.

As journalist, Nicholas Kristof said the day after the deadliest shooting in America, "So, let's mourn.  But even more important, let's act."

The moon is full; it reminds me of Karva Chauth. . .

The moon is full; it reminds me of Karva Chauth. . .