- ISIL creates all-female brigade to terrorize women into following Sharia law
- ISTOOK: Obama wants to be impeached
- Obama to Latin leaders: Help with border
- Military bans troops from Baptist church event honoring ‘God’s Rescue Squad’
- ‘Pocket drones’: U.S. Army developing tiny surveillance tools for the next big war
- Belgian cafe posts sign: Dogs allowed, but Jews stay out
- Gen. Dempsey: Pentagon studying Russian readiness plans not viewed ‘for 20 years’
- John McCain: Botched, two-hour execution of murderer is ‘torture’
- House GOP ready to move border bill
- Bomb squad called after live WWII artillery washes on Cape Cod beach
Sikh man cites religion in lawsuit against gun controls
Question of the Day
A Sikh man is suing the state of California over its gun laws, arguing they violate his First Amendment rights to practice his religion by barring him from carrying the kind of weapons he says he needs for self-defense.
Gursant Singh Khalsa, a practicing Sikh for 35 years, charges in the lawsuit filed this month that California’s laws banning military-style, semiautomatic weapons and high-capacity magazines violate mainstream Sikh doctinre requiring Sikhs “be at all time fully prepared to defend themselves and others against injustice.”
“We’re required to wear what’s called a kirpan” or dagger, he said Thursday. “I feel, as far as my religion goes, it dictates that we should have all weapons of all kinds to defend ourselves. By not being able to carry an assault rifle or weapon that has a high-capacity magazine, I don’t feel that I can defend myself or my family.”
Mr. Khalsa, who lives in Yuba City about 40 miles north of Sacramento, said he believes such a right should be available to all Americans with the proper training but that it’s also specific to the Sikh religion, which has roots deeply tied to self-defense.
“Some splinter groups attempt this by wearing symbolic miniature daggers in their turbans, to comply with this requirement,” he argues in the lawsuit, filed in federal court in California. “But mainstream Sikhs believe this requirement is a literal and true moral duty. As Guru Gobind Singh instructed his Sikhs; ‘Without uncut hair and weapons do not come before me’.”
Gurpatwant Pannun, a lawyer with the New York-based advocacy group Sikhs for Justice, said that carrying a sword is indeed a part of the religion, but wasn’t sure that the letter of the religion extends to carrying so-called assault weapons.
“It is an integral part to carry a sword, but whether that [provision] of carrying a sword goes to carrying an assault weapon, I’m not sure,” he said. “But carrying a sword is definitely an integral part of the religion.”
Mr. Khalsa, in his lawsuit, argues that the “sword” goes beyond the literal object.
“Decrees from the Tenth Sikh Guru state in the most vigorous and clear words that a Sikh’s conception of God is the sword of dharma,” he argues. “Not only the sword but every weapon became an attributive symbol of God for the Sikhs.”
The lawsuit also contains a reference to the attacks of Aug. 6, 2012, when a gunman killed six and injured several others at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisc., a suburban of Milwaukee.
“I feel that if a Sikh had been armed, they could have taken that guy out,” Mr. Khalsa said Thursday. “We believe in self-defense, standing up for your rights, and, if necessary, to defend yourself and, if necessary, use lethal force to stop someone.”
The lawsuit also says that California’s laws infringe on the Second and Fourteenth Amendment rights of Mr. Khalsa and others.
Mr. Khalsa, the suit reads, “fears arrest, criminal prosecution, incarceration, and fine if he were to possess loaded weapons with 11 or more round magazines within his home, within his vehicle on the streets, or within his temple. But his religious beliefs require no less.”
Mr. Khalsa has also issued a summons to Gov. Jerry Brown.
Mr. Brown’s office did not respond to requests for comment on the lawsuit Thursday.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
David Sherfinski covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Half can't name political party of their member of Congress, poll finds
- Mich. congressman returns Commerce award after group endorses opponent
- Rep. Henry Cuellar on border crisis: 'Playing defense on the one-yard line'
- Rep. Luis Gutierrez: Senate Dems wary of immigration politics
- Far out: Astronauts testify from International Space Station
Latest Blog Entries
- Dick Cheney: Hillary Clinton 'clearly bears responsibility' on Benghazi
- Holder vows to press ahead on gun control fight
- Seven of 10 prefer that Obama work with Congress, not go around it: Poll
- Schumer: Tea party hasn't let Obama put his policies into effect
- GOP official: Black not running for Wolf's House seat
TWT Video Picks
President wants everyone but himself to pay more
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- 'Pocket drones': U.S. Army developing tiny spies for the next big war
- Ted Nugent loses second casino gig for 'racist remarks'
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- ISTOOK: Obama wants to be impeached
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- Afghan who killed three U.S. Marines in 2012 to serve over 7-year prison sentence
- EDITORIAL: Obama's 'economic patriotism' means higher taxes
- HUSAIN: Fleeing Iraqi Christians find safe haven at the Shrine of Imam Ali
- Brian Kelly, Notre Dame ready for different route to title
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq