Two mass shootings in California have devastated the Asian American community at the start of the Lunar New Year. Eleven people were killed in Monterey Park and seven people were killed in Half Moon Bay.
While the motives aren’t completely clear, the pain and loss is incalculable. Among the victims of both shootings were grandparents, the owner of a dance studio and farm workers.
These two shootings follow a horrific shooting in Tulare County in Central California. In a mostly Latino community, six people were shot and killed, including a teenager and an infant. Police suspect this shooting was gang related.
Gun violence has not abated. In the first three weeks of 2023, there have been 39 mass shootings across the U.S.
Will it ever end?
Gun violence may seem like an insurmountable problem. But there are ways to make guns less accessible and also to restrict access to assault weapons.
On Jan. 23, right after the Monterey Park shooting, U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein, (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) introduced two bills to ban assault weapons.
The Assault Weapons Ban would ban the sale, transfer, manufacture and importation of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and other high-capacity ammunition feeding devices. This includes the type of gun used by the Monterey Park shooter.
In the Monterey Park shooting at the dance hall, the gunman, Huu Can Tran used a 9-millimeter MAC-10 and sprayed bullets as frightened patrons ducked for cover. Authorities recovered at least 42 spent shell casings from the scene. The Half Moon Bay suspect used a legally purchased semi-automatic handgun.
The Age 21 Act would raise the minimum age to purchase assault weapons from 18 to 21, the same requirement that currently exists in law for handguns.
“The constant stream of mass shootings have one common thread: they almost all involve assault weapons. It’s because these weapons were designed to kill as many people as quickly as possible,” said Sen. Feinstein in a statement. “They have no business in our communities or schools. It’s time we stand up to the gun lobby and remove these weapons of war from our streets, or at the very least keep them out of the hands of young people.”
Almost 2,800 people have been killed in 535 mass shootings since 2006, according to a USA TODAY/AP/Northeastern University mass killing database. The database counts a mass shooting as one in which four or more people, excluding the offender, were killed within a 24-hour time frame.
The firearm mortality rate for California is 8.5 per 100,000 residents, the seventh lowest in the U.S. in 2020, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hawaii has the lowest rate at 3.4 per 100,000 and Mississippi has the highest rate at 28.6 per 100,000.
“It’s said all the time: ‘Only in America. Number one in gun ownership, number one in gun deaths. It’s not even complicated,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said at a press conference.
Uvalde. El Paso. Orlando. Buffalo. Columbine. Newtown
The list of communities plagued by mass shootings is too long to list.
It’s time for Congress to take action on gun control.