Two things stand out in the latest massacre in America -- the shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin that killed six and wounded others.
One is that fully automatic or assault rifles are what should be banned, not shotguns or bolt-action rifles or ammunition. More about that in a moment.
The other aspect is that the Sikhs were targeted by the apparent "White Power" sicko, ex-soldier Wade Michael Page, because they are identifiably "different" -- not because there is any reason to be upset at what Sikhs do, or represent.
As a member of what seems a neo-Nazi musical group that hates Jews, people of colour, or anyone who is "different," Page translated rhetoric into violent action.
To suggest, as some do, that the shooting had anything to do with Muslims is wrong. It has everything to do with the white racist view that people who look different are enemies.
Traditionally, there is little in the way of animosity towards Sikhs. To those of a wartime generation, Sikhs are widely admired, even revered, as loyal, courageous, superb soldiers. As Allies in war, they are special.
Maybe that has changed, but the turban, beard and kirpan are distinctive enough to incite racists. Otherwise, in North America Sikhs are peaceful, productive, intelligent and valued citizens.
To link Sikhs with militant Muslims is outrageous ignorance.
Even though Page's rampage was apparently with a 9 mm hand gun and multiple magazines, automatic weapons are used by practically all mass murderers these days and have no place in society. Their only purpose is to kill people.
On a personal level, when I returned from being a soldier in the Korean war, I smuggled two U.S. M1 carbines in my kit bag. One had a folding stock, the other was conventional, both automatic and semi-automatic. The magazine held about 30 rounds.
I remember using one to hunt deer in B.C., assuming that on full automatic the deer wouldn't have a chance. When I got a deer in my sights and fired, I was mortified that every burst missed.
I then realized a bolt-action Lee-Enfield was more accurate and steady.
In the Korean war, automatic weapons were great to fend off a human wave attacks by the Chinese (I never endured one), but the reliable Lee-Enfield was more decisive in picking off a target. Anyway, Sten and Bren guns were available if there was a mass assault.
That holds true for hunters today -- a bolt action rifle is best for hunting. An assault weapon's only use is to kill people gathered in a crowd, where accuracy is irrelevant.
Why can't gun nuts see this?
In the U.S., where politicians and law-makers seem terrified by National Rifle Associaiton (NRA) activists, one would think a ban on assault-type weapons would be a no-brainer. But paranoia by gun owners blinds common sense.
Mercifully, the shooter of the Sikh temple was killed. His abhorrent deed had little to do with his record as a soldier -- never overseas, never in combat, but a so-called specialist in psychological operations, whatever that is.
Discharged in 1998, Page was declared "ineligible" for re-enlistment. In other words, the army didn't want him.
Historically, during partition in India (1947 it was Sikhs who were massacred by Muslims. Ever since, the two communities have had little to do with each other.)
But tell that to nutbar racists who relish their automatic weapons.
As for my M1 carbines, I donated them to the Queen's Own Rifles museum where I assume they are on display to this day.