AMERICA’S GUN VIOLENCE EPIDEMIC

Santokh Singh

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Narayan Mahon

Singh, 50, was a Granthi (a reader of sacred scriptures) at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, just outside Milwaukee, when it was attacked in August 2012 by a white supremacist who killed six congregants before shooting himself. (Singh spoke through a translator.)

I started working at our temple in 2009, as was one of the Granthis. I lived in the temple — most Granthis live in the temple. After the shooting, my family came, so we had to find an apartment where we could all live together, and that's where I live now. The shooting left two bullets on the left side of my stomach, so I was in too much pain, it was hard for me to function. I unfortunately had to give up my work.

We had just finished the early-morning Sunday prayer, and we went back to our room preparing for the rest of the day's services. It was me and a few other Granthis, and we all heard gunshots outside. We knew there was a gunman, so we locked the door. We heard a knocking at the door. Prakash Singh, another Granthi, thought maybe this is my family. So he opened the door and it was the gunman, and he shot Prakash Singh and killed him. I was standing behind him.

He pointed the gun at me, and I asked him, "Why are you doing this?" And he just started opening fire. He hit me twice, but had run out of bullets so he was reloading, and I ran out. I ran through where the congregation eats and went out the back door. I ended up in one of the neighbors' yards. Eventually an ambulance came and picked me up.

“I asked him, 'Why are you doing this?' And he just started opening fire.”

I am a priest. I have no business with guns. I don't understand why so many people have guns in this country. When guns are used to kill people, the best way to prevent things from happening is taking away their tool to kill people. For me, it doesn't make any sense why they're allowed to have them so easily. If you don't have guns, you can't have shootings.

As told to Elisabeth Garber-Paul

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