Lunar New Year is a time dedicated to luck and good fortune. Unfortunately, that was not the case on Jan. 22 in Monterey Park, CA, when a gunman opened fire at a dance hall near the community’s Lunar New Year festival. The city, in Southern California, is predominantly Asian American.
After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the Lunar New Year festival brought in more than 100,000 people across Southern California, per NPR. The advocacy group Stop AAPI Hate said in a statement that “this tremendous act of violence” had occurred on “one of the most important days of the year for many Asian Americans.” (This year, for the first time, Lunar New Year is an official state holiday in California.)
With 11 dead and another 10 injured, the shooting is the deadliest in the United States since the May 24, 2022, shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX, representing the largest loss of life in a mass elementary-school shooting since Sandy Hook in 2012, leaving 21 dead, including 19 children. And that horrific loss came just 10 days after a shooter killed 10 people in a racially motivated attack at a Buffalo, NY, supermarket. It’s also worth mentioning the Club Q attack in Colorado Springs in November 2022 and the University of Virginia shooting in December 2022.
More than 600 mass shootings took place in the United States in 2022 alone, per the Gun Violence Archive. The vast majority of these home-grown terrorists — because they are terrorists — are white men (Rockefeller reports that more than 95 percent of mass shooters are male and almost 55 percent are white). The ACLU of New York has highlighted the ways in which white supremacy and patriarchy (two inherently violent structures) cross-pollinate and contribute to these kinds of attacks.
But gun control is another major issue, with many governments unable to pass meaningful gun reforms due to ongoing gridlocks in Congress, per CBS. The issue is particularly frustrating as mass shooters are increasingly using semiautomatic (or comparable) weapons to kill their victims, and these weapons are often bought legally, per USA Today.
Every single mass shooting in the United States is another reminder that this country has not done nearly enough to address the largely preventable issue of gun violence. Since the start of 2023, the United States has witnessed 40 mass shootings, and it’s not even February, per Gun Violence Archive.
“It has been happening on a daily basis now, and we can barely keep count of these mass shootings,” Representative Judy Chu, whose district includes Monterey Park, said to The New York Times.
It’s easy to feel helpless in moments like these, to feel like you can’t do anything but doomscroll on Twitter while losing hope that we’re capable of change. The truth is that there are actions we can all take, and while they may not feel world-shaking in the moment, small acts can lead to bigger progress over time. For example, you can directly support the communities of Monterey Park, Uvalde, and Colorado Springs by donating to fundraisers created for victims and their loved ones. You can research your local representatives’ stances on gun reform and vote for candidates who support common-sense gun-safety laws, like banning assault rifles and requiring universal background checks. You can also donate to gun-reform organizations working to enact this change at local and federal levels.
It’s clear that thoughts and prayers are not preventing gun violence from occurring every day in the US. If this moment is moving you to take action, see below for a selection of organizations pushing for gun reform that you can donate to today.
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