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Sikh victim’s lessons sustain family

OAK CREEK, Wis. — Punjab Singh spent a lifetime preaching the Sikh principles of optimism and hope — the very principles that his family now rely upon to sustain them during his slow recovery from being shot in the head two years by a white supremacist.

Singh, 66, can neither move nor speak. Doctors say his injuries were so severe that he may never recover further. But his family refuses to give up hope, saying that with prayers and God’s grace, anything is possible.

“We never lose the hope,” his elder son, Raghuvinder Singh, said. “God is able to do anything he wants.”

Sikhism teaches forgiveness and peace, as well as the idea of living in “chardhi kala.” The Punjabi term describes a state of constant optimism, which believers say reflects an acceptance of God’s will.

It’s that spirit from which the family draws their strength. Because of their optimism, there is no anger at the shooter, no frustration over the turmoil they’ve endured, no agonizing over why such a bad thing happened to a good person.

“My father never teaches me anger to anyone. He teaches me always be in chardhi kala,” Raghuvinder Singh said. “I respect that and I practice that.”

Punjab Singh, an internationally known Sikh priest, was wounded Aug. 5, 2012, when a gunman opened fire at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek. Six worshippers were killed and four other people were injured. The motive of the gunman, who killed himself, is unknown. 

Singh was in a bedroom at the temple that morning. When he heard gunfire he tried to barricade himself, but the gunman forced the door open far enough to reach his handgun inside and shoot Singh in the face.

The bullet damaged brain tissue, blood vessels and the brain stem. He was in a coma for two months, and a pair of subsequent strokes nearly paralyzed his left side. 

Improvement has been marginal. Today he can blink his eyes to answer yes or no, and he has a hint of motion in his right arm and leg. While he can’t speak, Raghuvinder Singh said his greatest prayer was to hear his father’s voice again so he could learn what happened that day.

Punjab Singh now lives in a nursing home in southeast Wisconsin. All of his medical bills have been paid by insurance.

Raghuvinder and his younger brother, Jaspreet Singh, used to maintain 24-hour vigils at their father’s bedside, alternating shifts and sleeping in a bed next to his.

They changed their routines after Raghuvinder, 44, returned to his job as a priest at a Sikh temple in Glen Rock, New Jersey. He’d been working there since 2008, and has a visa for religious work. His salary supports his family of four, as well as his mother and brother.

He returned to Milwaukee last week for memorial services that last through Tuesday, the two-year anniversary of the tragedy.

His mother and Jaspreet remained in Milwaukee ever since they arrived from India, days after the shooting.

With the aid of federal officials Jaspreet has been able to keep getting his six-month visitor visas renewed. However, he can’t legally work. Instead he spends five or more hours a day visiting the nursing home, washing his father’s face, combing his hair and beard and reading spiritual hymns.

When Jaspreet comes home he Skypes with his wife in New Delhi — and with the 1-year-old daughter he has never met. Ekampreet was born after he left India.

Growing up half a world away from his only child has been hard. But knowing that he’s being a dutiful son maintains him in chardhi kala, he added.

“Yes, I want to hold my daughter. But in Sikh religion, if you are serving your mother and father it’s like you’re serving God,” he said. “I want to serve my father.”

Their mother, Kulwant Kaur, spends her days alternating between visiting her husband and worshipping at the temple where he was shot. She too remains optimistic, drawing strength from the Sikhs around the world who pray for her husband.

“The prayers are working,” she said in Hindi. “We ask people to keep praying and things will improve.”

An AP exclusive.

Victims of Sikh temple shooting remembered on 1st anniversary

Today marks the first anniversary of the shooting at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis., and civil rights advocates are urging the president to hold a summit to address violence against religious minorities.

On Aug. 5, 2012, a gunman with neo-Nazi ties stormed into a gurdwara in Oak Creek and began firing. He killed six people and wounded three others in what is remembered as one of the most lethal attacks on an American house of worship since the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala.

In a joint statement released on Aug. 5, The Sikh Coalition, Muslim Advocates, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Anti-Defamation League, Interfaith Alliance, Rights Working Group and American Civil Liberties Union remembered the victims and their families.

The statement said, “We hope that our national leaders will address the escalating crisis of violence and discrimination against religious minorities in America. Too many lives have been destroyed because of hate violence from the shooting at the Oak Creek gurdwara to the multitude of violent attacks on members from the Arab, Muslim, Sikh, Jewish and South Asian American communities.”

“Approximately 100 organizations and 37 members of Congress have called on President Obama to directly tackle the problem and host a summit to find solutions on how to protect religious minorities and prevent violence and discrimination. Now, more than ever, President Obama’s leadership is critical to this issue; we hope that he will take action and that tragedies such as these never happen again.” 

On the Web…

http://blogs.justice.gov/main/archives/3233

Police officer wounded in Oak Creek invited to State of the Union

A police lieutenant wounded last summer during the deadly mass shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek was among two dozen guests who sat with the first lady during President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night.

Oak Creek police officer Brian Murphy was shot multiple times by a gunman who killed six worshippers in Wisconsin before taking his own life. The veteran policeman is on medical leave from the force while recovering from wounds to his head, neck and body, the White House said.

The White House historically extends invitations to ordinary people to join the first lady in the public gallery of the House chamber during the speech, believing they can help put a human face on an issue or proposal the president  discusses during his annual address.

This year’s guest list demonstrated that gun control, education, immigration, jobs and the economy, health care and voting rights were among the issues Obama planned to highlight. The list included Kaitlin Roig, of Greenwich, Conn., a first-grade teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Roig’s school was the scene of a mass shooting in December that claimed 20 students and six educators at the school.

“Some amazing Americans will be next to me for Barack’s State of the Union address,” Michelle Obama wrote Tuesday on Twitter.

Also joining the first lady in her box was Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton and Nathaniel A. Pendleton Sr., parents of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, who was shot and killed near Obama’s Chicago home days after she returned from performing during inauguration festivities in Washington. Mrs. Obama attended the drum majorette’s funeral on Saturday.

Other guests included:

  •  Marine Sgt. Sheena Adams, Vista, Calif., team adviser and lead instructor of the Female Engagement Team.
  •  Alan Aleman, Las Vegas, a Mexican immigrant and one of the first people in Nevada allowed to stay in the country under an administration initiative for immigrant children of parents in the U.S. without legal permission.
  •  Jack Andraka, Crownsville, Md., 16-year-old winner of the 2012 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.
  •  Susan Bumgarner, Norman, Okla., early childhood educator.
  •  Deb Carey, New Glarus, Wis., owner of New Glarus Brewing Co.
  •  Marine Sgt. Carlos Evans, Fayetteville, N.C., who lost both legs and his left hand during service that included three deployments to Iraq and one to Afghanistan. The president signed Evans’ prosthetic arm during a visit to the White House.
  •  Tim Cook, Cupertino, Calif., CEO of Apple.
  •  Menchu de Luna Sanchez, Secaucus, N.J., nurse at NYU Langone Medical Center who helped transfer at-risk patients during Hurricane Sandy.
  •  Bobak Ferdowsi, of Pasadena, Calif., flight director of the Mars Curiosity rover.
  •  Bradley Henning, Louisville, Ky., machinist, Atlas Machine and Supply.
  •  Tracey Hepner, Arlington, Va., co-founder, Military Partners and Families Coalition, providing support, resources and advocacy for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender military partners and their families.
  •  Peter Hudson, Evergreen, Colo., co-founder and CEO of iTriage, a health care company.
  •  Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber.
  •  Mayor Marie Lopez Rogers, Avondale, Ariz., the city’s first Latina mayor and current president of the National League of Cities.
  •  Amanda E. McMillan, Jackson, Miss., victim of pay discrimination.
  •  Lee Maxwell, Wilton, Iowa, graduate of program at Kirkwood Community College for wind technicians.
  •  Lisa Richards, Arlington, Va., participant in a White House effort in which people were asked to share stories about what paying $2,200 more in taxes would mean for them and their families.
  •  Abby Schanfield, Minneapolis, beneficiary of Obama’s health care overhaul.
  •  Haile Thomas, Tucson, Ariz., a 12-year-old co-founder and director of the HAPPY Organization to help improve the health and wellness of young people.
  •  Desiline Victor, Miami, who, at age 102, made two trips and waited several hours to vote for Obama last November.

Time is ripe for tackling gun control

The people of Aurora, Colo., had just begun returning to normalcy after the July 20 massacre at a cinema there when Milwaukeeans were hit with the news that a hate attack on a Sikh temple in Oak Creek had left six worshippers near the Texas A&M University campus, killing two and wounding four before he was gunned down by police.

According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the Texas case was the 12th mass shooting in the nation since the beginning of June. FBI statistics show guns are used in 67 percent of all homicides.

The National Rifle Association, which promotes the ownership and use of guns, is possibly the strongest and most effective lobbying group in the nation. Few elected officials will stand up to the all-powerful NRA. Even President Barack Obama has caved in to the group on such important policies as regulating the international small arms trade.

The NRA contends that guns don’t kill – people do. But according to the circular reasoning behind this bumper-sticker philosophy, everybody should be entitled to a stockpile of H-bombs and chemical war agents.

Americans owned about 70 million firearms in 1999m and the number has been steadily climbing. Since the Tea Party began liberalizing access to guns, the number in circulation has grown to an estimated 260 million to 300 million.

Tea Party officials also have eliminated most restrictions on where and how firearms can be carried and used. At a time when there’s widespread economic hardship and unprecedented polarization in the United States, it would be miraculous if this set of conditions did not have catastrophic results.

Not all deaths by firearms are the result of crimes. In 2010, for example, 11,015 homicides were committed using guns, but firearms were used in 19,308 suicides and caused 600 accidental deaths. In addition, there were about 200,000 non-fatal injuries involving firearms.

The World Health Organization studied and compared firearm deaths in 23 countries in 2003. The total U.S. population that year was 290.8 million, while the combined population of the other 22 countries was 563.5 million.

Yet 80 percent of all firearm deaths in the 23 high-income countries in 2003 occurred in the U.S, where guns rank among the top ten causes of death.

Recent events have created an opportunity for progressives to counter the NRA’s propaganda and make a case for gun-control policies.

Democratic leaders in three big states have used the recent shootings to push bills to crack down on assault weapons and ammunition sales. But these scattered efforts have not gained traction in Congress or the presidential campaign, and we have yet to see an orchestrated gun-control effort emerge.

It’s disappointing that progressive leaders are not pushing harder and louder to address this critical health issue. Not only disappointing, but cowardly and shameful.

The sound of violence | Sikh shooter a product of shadowy ‘hatecore’ music scene

When Arno Michaels learned that the shooter at Oak Creek’s Sikh temple was a white supremacist, he lay “awake that night wondering if it was some- one I recruited,” he said.

It was a plausible fear. Michaels is a former white-power skinhead who helped found the Northern Hammerskins, part of the nation’s predominant white supremacist group. Around the time that shooter Wade Michael Page joined the movement, Michaels was actively recruiting in the Milwaukee area.

Eventually Michaels learned that Page had lived in North Carolina at that time, which was the early 1990s. Initially, he was relieved, “but then it came out that he was in (white power) bands,” Michaels said.

When they aren’t ranting in Web forums, many of the world’s white supremacists employ a louder outlet for their views: thunderous, thrashing heavy metal or hardcore punk music known as “hatecore,” with violent lyrics that call for a race war.

Hatecore bands echo the sounds of death metal and hardcore punk, with amplified, atonal guitar riffs, blast-beat drumming and screeching vocals. The names of hatecore bands tell their story: Aggravated Assault, Angry Aryans, Definnite Hate, Final Solution, Force Fed Hate, Fueled by Hate, Hate Crime, Jew Slaughter and White Terror.

Hate music has also emerged in the country and folk music genres. But it’s the crashing, death-metal style that seems best suited to the message and continues to dominate this tiny but socially significant music scene.

As frontman for one of these bands, Centurion, Michaels was a major player in that music scene. The group’s underground concerts were one of its greatest recruitment and fundraising tools, he said, as well as a powerful mechanism for group bonding and ideological reinforcement.

Centurion’s CD “14 Words” sold more than 20,000 copies, screeching the movement’s call for the destruction of racial/ethnic minorities and LGBT people across the globe. Although that number is small in the context of mainstream rock, Centurion was Northern Hammerskin’s primary fundraising tool and, for a while, it dominated the shadowy fringes of the racist skinhead music world.

“The odds are very good that (Page) was a fan of Centurion,” Michaels said. “I feel a very serious responsibility for helping to create the environment that created him.”

Michaels now works with former gang members and white supremacists to produce Life After Hate, a monthly online magazine that promotes tolerance and compassion. He’s also developed Kindness Not Weakness, a character development movement that discourages bullying and violence.

But no matter how much his mind and heart have changed, Michaels continues to be haunted by the damage he did as a teen and young man – not just to others but also to his own soul. The headlines about Page re-opened an old wound.

“I used to be Wade Page,” Michaels said.

‘Definite Hate’

Before he shot himself, ending his murderous rampage, Page was deeply involved with white-power music, having performed with several bands. Monitors of hate groups had been tracking Wade since his 2000 debut on the hatecore scene.

Definite Hate, one of the bands in which Page performed, was signed with Resistance Records, the Cadillac label of the hatecore industry. DF’s anthem is the song “Heart to My Nation,” which begins, “Our heritage is fading/Our people have turned back,” then builds over the course of six and a half minutes to the climax: “Our heritage is growing/Our people fighting back/Sieg heil! Sieg heil! Sieg heil!”

During its heyday in 2001, when GQ profiled Definite Hate, Resistance Records grossed $1 million annually, making it the cash cow for the then-dominant neo-Nazi group National Alliance. That group was founded by William Pierce, who became a hero of the movement for his 1978 novel “The Turner Diaries,” a sort of bible for racists that inspired Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, among others.

Coded messages permeate hatecore. For instance, Resistance often sold hate-rock albums for $14.88 – “14” representing the 14 words in a popular skinhead mantra, and “8” referring to the eighth letter of the alphabet–“H.”

“Doubling it up stood for ‘Heil Hitler,’” said Todd Blodgett, a former Reagan White House aide who once had an ownership stake in Resistance Records but later informed on white supremacist groups for the FBI.

Resistance Records’ sales slid precipitously after Pierce made a speech dissing members of other racist groups as “freaks and weaklings,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Pierce died in 2002 of cancer and kidney failure.

No comparable record label has emerged to dominate the scene the way that RR did. Today’s hatecore groups are the equivalent of garage bands, distributed by specialized small labels that often consist of a single person and a post office box. The bands come and go, and performers hop from one to another. At any given moment, there are between 100 and 150 bands in the United States, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Hammerskins, the closest thing today to the National Alliance, dominates much of the white power music scene. Many hatecore bands are affiliated with the group, which organizes hate music concerts, including Hammerfest, the genre’s largest annual event. Page performed at Hammerfest in Georgia in 2010.

Gateway drug

The Internet has ushered in a new era of opportunity for hatecore music. People stumble across the music in the course of cruising the Web and can download it from many bands’ sites for free. Those who are willing to pay for it need look no farther than iTunes or Amazon.com.

Hatecore can strike a chord with the kind of disaffected, angry youth that Page and Michaels once were. For Michaels, the pioneering British hatecore band Skrewdriver was like a gateway drug.

“The music has proven to be the single most effective recruiting tool for bringing young people into the movement,” said Mark Potok, senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center. “You hear from many people who come out of the white supremacist movement that the music is very important. Essentially what people say is that at (a young) age you listen to a given track hundreds and hundreds of times and the music seeps into your brain.”

Prior to the Internet, getting the music out to the public was an overwhelming challenge.

“Just going around trying to find kids and give them hate music CDs in the hopes that they’ll like it and get involved in the movement that way – that’s a very time- and cost-inefficient tactic, said Michael Pitcavage, direc- tor of investigative research for the Anti-Defamation League. “But if you have a medium like the Internet, you can simply put the music out there where people encounter it in their everyday lives. It’s the difference between a direct marketing campaign and a billboard campaign.”

“Kids introduce themselves to this world on their own,” Potok said. “Mom and dad are in the kitchen making dinner, and they’re off in their room on their computer. It’s kind of like looking at porn. Some small percentage gets more and more interested.”

Showtime

Exposure to the music is not a strong enough experience to seal a life-changing deal like joining a racist skinhead group. The leap from listening to the music on the Internet to being assimilated into the movement is a big one, and hatecore concerts help some over the divide.

“On the face of it, you think someone listening to a song and then wanting to go out and kill Jews – that’s just ridiculous,” Potok said. “The moment of truth is when that kid walks out of his parent’s home and into his first skinhead concert. There he meets that world.”

Staging a hatecore concert presents a unique set of challenges. Very few, if any, legitimate venues permit such events on their premises, so organizers must resort to subterfuge or find out-of-the-way places, such as dank basements, warehouses or rural fields in which to perform.

“It was pretty much any- where we could get into,” Michaels said. “We got into a VFW hall by pretending it was somebody’s birthday party. We built a stage on a 10-acre farm just north of Wisconsin Dells and had a concert there where there were a couple of hundred people.”

Initiates have to clear a number of hurdles just to find a concert. They might receive directions to a parking lot where group members are waiting in a car to check them out before taking them to the concert site.

There are reasons for the secrecy. Although hate speech is protected in the United States, unlike some European countries, government agents try to keep tabs on extremist group activity. Anti-racist skinheads, who equal their white-power counterparts in ferocity, can infiltrate an event and turn what was intended to be a bonding experience into a brawl.

Bloodshed common

Michaels said bloodshed is common at the concerts, which he described as “testosterone-fueled” events where knife fights over women and brawls to resolve power conflicts are part of the allure. The concerts are also known for their violent mosh pits. Mosh pits, which are also features of heavy metal and hardcore punk concerts, are areas close to the stage where solo dancers push and slam into one another in a frenzy of undirected aggression.

“The pit during our shows would often get so violent that the audience would start tearing each other apart,” Michaels said. “We were proud of the fact that a lot of our audience would leave in ambulances. That’s how crazed we would get the audience worked up. We would be like, ‘Yeah, that’s what            Centurion does.’ ”

For the kind of members sought by supremacists – men who are prepared to fight a race war – violence is part of the movement’s allure. Even the frequent battles with anti-racist skinheads have a romantic “West Side Story” appeal, Michaels said.

But while the white power movement is built on violence, it paradoxically offers its adherents the warm acceptance and sense of purpose lacking in their lives. In that sense it’s very much like urban street gangs.

Michaels said it was the camaraderie and romantic appeal of being part of a mythic quest – to save the white race – that won him over to the white power movement. He saw his racist skinhead comrades as an all-embracing new family of rebellious misfits like himself, bound together by a common cause and a shared contempt for authority and the status quo.

While the Internet has empowered neo-Nazis and white supremacists to spread their message more effectively, Michaels believes the Web has “also empowered those of us who are countering hate and violence.”

“Life After Hate has contributors from all continents short of Australia and Antarctica,” he said. “We got more soldiers for LAH during the week after the Sikh shooting than during the prior two and a half years of our organization combined.

Michaels urged all people to fight hate “by committing themselves to treating the life around you with as much kindness and compassion as possible. That practice is the most beautiful thing about being a human being, and it is something that can change the course of life. It changed the course of my life, and it can change the course of the next Wade Page.”

Low notes

A brief chronology of white-power music:

1960s: Johnny Rebel aka Clifford Joseph Trahane sings with a Cajun sound about the KKK and becomes known in music history as the “forefather of white power music.”

1976: Ian Stuart Donaldson forms Skrewdriver, considered the first racist skinhead band, in Great Britain

1978: The white supremacist National Front forms the Punk Front in Britain, launching the Nazi punk period.

Late 1980s: The first Hammerskin group, the Confederate Hammerskins, forms in Dallas.

1993: Resistance Records is founded.

1995: William Pierce’s handbook “The Turner Diaries” informs Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

1999: William Pierce, leader of the neo-Nazi National Alliance, purchases Resistance Records, lead purveyor

of “white power” music.

October 2000: Hammerfest 2000 is held in Georgia and described as a “Woodstock of hate rock.”

2004: Panzerfaust Records, a white power music label, launches a campaign to distribute free white-

power music CDs to middle and high school students.

Aug. 5, 2012: Wade Michael Page, a 40-year-old ex-soldier with ties to the white-power music scene, kills six before taking his own life at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis.

Doctors target gun violence as social disease

Public health experts, in the wake of recent mass shootings in the U.S., are calling for a fresh look at gun violence as a social disease.

What is needed, they say, is a public health approach to the problem, like the highway safety measures, product changes and driving laws that slashed deaths from car crashes decades ago, even as the number of vehicles on the road rose.

One example: Guardrails are now curved to the ground instead of having sharp metal ends that stick out and pose a hazard in a crash.

“People used to spear themselves and we blamed the drivers for that,” said Dr. Garen Wintemute, an emergency medicine professor who directs the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis.

It wasn’t enough back then to curb deaths just by trying to make people better drivers, and it isn’t enough now to tackle gun violence by focusing solely on the people doing the shooting, he and other doctors say.

They want a science-based, pragmatic approach based on the reality that we live in a society saturated with guns and need better ways of preventing harm from them.

The need for a new approach crystallized earlier this month for one of the nation’s leading gun violence experts, Dr. Stephen Hargarten. He found himself treating victims of the Sikh temple shootings at the emergency department he heads in Milwaukee. Seven people were killed, including the gunman, and three were seriously injured.

It happened two weeks after the shooting that killed 12 people and injured 58 at a movie theater in Colorado, and two days before a man pleaded guilty to killing six people and wounding 13, including then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, in Tucson, Ariz., last year.

“What I’m struggling with is, is this the new social norm? This is what we’re going to have to live with if we have more personal access to firearms,” said Hargarten, emergency medicine chief at Froedtert Hospital and director of the Injury Research Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin. “We have a public health issue to discuss. Do we wait for the next outbreak or is there something we can do to prevent it?”

About 260 million to 300 million firearms are owned by civilians in the United States; about one-third of American homes have one. Guns are used in two-thirds of homicides, according to the FBI. About 9 percent of all violent crimes involve a gun — roughly 338,000 cases each year.

Mass shootings don’t seem to be on the rise, but not all police agencies report details like the number of victims per shooting and reporting lags by more than a year, so recent trends are not known.

“The greater toll is not from these clusters but from endemic violence, the stuff that occurs every day and doesn’t make the headlines,” said Wintemute, the California researcher.

More than 73,000 emergency room visits in 2010 were for firearm-related injuries, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates.

At the same time, violent crime has been falling and the murder rate is less than half what it was two decades ago. And Gallup polls have shown support for stricter gun laws has been falling since 1990. Last year 55 percent of Americans said gun laws should remain the same or become more lenient.

Dr. David Satcher tried to make gun violence a public health issue when he became CDC director in 1993. Four years later, laws that allow the carrying of concealed weapons drew attention when two women were shot at an Indianapolis restaurant after a patron’s gun fell out of his pocket and accidentally fired. Ironically, the victims were health educators in town for an American Public Health Association convention.

That same year, Hargarten won a federal grant to establish the nation’s first Firearm Injury Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

“Unlike almost all other consumer products, there is no national product safety oversight of firearms,” he wrote in the Wisconsin Medical Journal.

That’s just one aspect of a public health approach. Other elements:

• “Host” factors: What makes someone more likely to shoot, or someone more likely to be a victim. One recent study found firearm owners were more likely than those with no firearms at home to binge drink or to drink and drive, and other research has tied alcohol and gun violence. That suggests that people with driving under the influence convictions should be barred from buying a gun, Wintemute said.

• Product features: Which firearms are most dangerous and why. Manufacturers could be pressured to fix design defects that let guns go off accidentally, and to add technology that allows only the owner of the gun to fire it (many police officers and others are shot with their own weapons). Bans on assault weapons and multiple magazines that allow rapid and repeat firing are other possible steps.

• “Environmental” risk factors: What conditions allow or contribute to shootings. Gun shops must do background checks and refuse to sell firearms to people convicted of felonies or domestic violence misdemeanors, but those convicted of other violent misdemeanors can buy whatever they want. The rules also don’t apply to private sales, which one study estimates as 40 percent of the market.

• Disease patterns, observing how a problem spreads. Gun ownership — a precursor to gun violence — can spread “much like an infectious disease circulates,” said Daniel Webster, a health policy expert and co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research in Baltimore.

“There’s sort of a contagion phenomenon” after a shooting, where people feel they need to have a gun for protection or retaliation, he said.

That’s already evident in the wake of the Colorado movie-theater shootings during a screening of the new Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises.”  Last week, reports popped up around the nation of people bringing guns to the “Batman” movie. Some of them said they did so for protection.

LGBT groups respond to violence in Oak Creek, Joplin

A coalition of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights groups and allies issued a solidarity statement responding to this week’s violence in Oak Creek, Wis., and Joplin, Mo.

The statement, released Aug. 9, reads:

“As organizations serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) communities, we are stunned and saddened by the recent spate of violence against communities across the country. The shooting at the Sikh gurdwara (temple) in Oak Creek, WI that left 6 people dead was certainly a blow to all of us on Sunday, August 5. To hear about the fire at the mosque in Joplin, MO not even 24 hours later compounded our sense of tragedy and shock. We send our deepest sympathies to the families affected.

“Currently, details about both incidents are still emerging. Local law enforcement in Oak Creek have been joined by the FBI in an ongoing investigation of the incident as a potential act of domestic terrorism and a potential hate crime. The fire in Joplin was the second of its kind at the mosque, on the heels of another fire on July 4. Motives in both cases are still being determined (the first fire at the Joplin mosque was determined to be arson).

“The LGBTQ communities we work with and serve are no strangers to violence in our midst. We know our communities are threatened on a daily basis by the many faces of hate and intolerance – not just because of our sexuality or gender identity, but because of our race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, ability, and too many other facets of our identities. We stand in solidarity against all forms of violence, as well as the hate and intolerance that all too often propagate it.

“We roundly condemn the violence committed against our fellow community members in Oak Creek, WI and Joplin, MO. As flags fly at half-staff around the country, we call for a fuller dialogue among diverse communities, law enforcement, and policymakers to better address violence in our communities.”

The groups that signed the statement include: Advocates for Youth, Affinity Community Services, Inc., American Civil Liberties Union, Asian Pacific Islander Equality- Northern California, Audre Lorde Project, CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers, Family Equality Council, FIERCE, First Nations Two Spirit Collective, Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, Immigration Equality | Action Fund, International Federation of Black Prides, National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Queers United for Action, PFLAG National (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), Queers for Economic Justice, Queer Muslim Working Group, Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project (QWOCMAP), SALGA, Southerners on New Ground (SONG), Sylvia Rivera Law Project and Trikone.