Americans are once again facing the grim aftermath of another mass shooting, with one of the deadliest incidents in recent months taking place during the beginning of 2023. This shooting occurred Jan. 21 in Monterey Park, California, at a dance studio during a Lunar New Year celebration and left 11 dead. Monterey Park is home to a large Chinese and Asian diaspora, and while the motives of the gunman, who took his own life the next day, are unknown, this attack appears to have transpired in an effort to hurt the community during a day of celebration. This mass shooting adds to a growing list of others that have taken place in the country, leading many to feel hopeless and upset with lawmakers who have done little in regard to gun control to stop these tragedies.
California currently has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, yet there have now been two mass shootings here this year — the one in Monterey Park and another in Half Moon Bay that occurred Monday killing seven. Despite there being these laws in place, those wishing to inflict harm on others are still finding a way to do so. The gun used in the Monterey Park shooting was one that is illegal in California and was most likely brought over from another state. “California is known for having strict gun laws, but it is not surprising that guns are prevalent in the state,” Matthew Lang, a professor of economics at the University of California, Riverside who has studied firearms sales, told ABC News.
While the gunman was later fought off at a separate dance studio in the area by 26-year-old Brandon Tsay, stopping gun violence should not be the job of civilians. The general public shouldn’t have to worry about where they would hide and escape when attending events, or just being out in the world, and it is certainly not normal for Americans to consider that they may need to step in and fight while at a community celebration. This fear that lives inside most Americans has become normalized and lawmakers are failing to protect their citizens. Instead of training teachers and other public servants how to fight off gunmen, better police emergency response and federal gun legislation are needed.
Mass shootings and tragedies have become a horrific status quo in the country. According to a study on gun violence conducted by the BBC this month, in the last three years there have been more than 600 mass shootings – almost two a day on average. The widespread use of guns and ownership here have only created more violence and death despite gun owners often citing owning a firearm for safety reasons. As one of the leading countries in almost all other aspects, the US is also showing the world how its system is allowing for this violence to occur. Mental health and other preventive measures, like government aid, would help people from feeling so hopeless and believing that taking the lives of others, and in some cases themselves, is their only option.
While the true motive of the gunman in Monterey Park is still unknown, this tragedy should not be used to shame communities from celebrating themselves or retreat in fear of retaliation. The recent rise of Asian hate crimes after the start of the pandemic are cause for concern, but this incident does not appear to have been a hate crime. Aliship and coalition building is important for all marginalized and people of color communities in this time of hardship. This shooting, and the unfortunate others to come, should bring the country together to create positive change.
Listed below are the name and ages of those killed during the shooting.
Valentino Marcos Alvero, 68
Hongying Jian, 62
Yu Lun Kao, 72
Lilan Li, 63
Ming Wei Ma, 72
My My Nhan, 65
Diana Man Ling Tom, 70
Muoi Dai Ung, 67
Chia Ling Yau, 76
Wen Tau Yu, 64
Xiujuan Yu, 57