Gun violence in California leads to increasing concern for students on opposite side of country


Photo used with permission from Google Commons

California citizens pay respects to victims of the Monterey Park shooting.

3,497 people in the US have died from gun violence in only the first month of 2023. At least 69 of those deaths have been traced back to mass shootings. 

The concern over gun violence in our nation is growing. On Jan. 21 a mass shooting occurred in Monterey Park, CA. The shooting interrupted a celebratory day of tradition occurring on Lunar New Year’s Eve. The attack took place in a predominantly Asian community at a popular holiday festival. The gunman first fired inside of a Chinese-owned ballroom, Star Dance Studio, which was located a block away from the festival. A half hour later, the same gunman entered another ballroom studio, Lai Lai Ballroom, with the intent of targeting more people. Here, two people successfully disarmed the man and forced him off the premises, possibly saving more lives. The shooting in Monterey Park was not only a mass shooting that resulted in 12 casualties, but also a targeted attack that left the Asian community of Monterey Park devastated and on edge about their safety. 

Less than 48 hours later, another gunman fired in Half Moon Bay, CA, killing six people. Half Moon Bay is a rural seaside town that is home to one of the state’s oldest agricultural communities. The attack occurred on Mountain Mushroom Farm where workers of Asian and Hispanic descent were killed in what was named a workplace violence crime rather than a hate crime. 

In Oakland, CA, another armed individual killed one person and injured seven others after firing at a gas station on the same night as the attack at Half Moon Bay. A state with some of the nation’s strictest gun laws underwent three mass shootings in a matter of days. 

These back-to-back mass shootings in California capture a bigger picture of the state of gun violence in America. In the start of this year, America has endured more mass shootings than any other start of the year. Despite California having strictly enforced gun laws, these attacks were able to take place and disrupt communities, families and the entire country. What California governor Gavin Nesom described as “tragedy upon tragedy” has shaken up the state of California but also has reached people all across America.

Student’s safety and comfort in expressing their traditions is questioned. Freshman Jonathan Lei celebrates Lunar New Year with friends and family, and he said, “Chinese New Year is something that’s so special because it honors multiple cultures throughout Asia. The events that happened in California regarding the shootings on Chinese New Year make me feel unsettled because Chinese New Year isn’t a day to fight or to hurt people, it’s a day to celebrate Asian cultures.” 

Junior Kelly Ren also feels disheartened by the attacks. “This is the second time this year that violence against Asians has come to my attention. The events in California along with the recent stabbing at Indiana University have caused me to be upset and anxious for myself and my community. It’s extremely sad to see that other communities were intruded, especially on a day that should be spent eating family dinners, decorating the house, and partaking in fun, deeply-rooted traditions,” Ren said. 

Incidents like these spark the push for stricter gun laws, an ongoing debate that divides our country and community. Some students such as junior Jax Kobey feel threatened by the growing number of firearm related deaths. “Gun violence is a very depressing issue plaguing our country. I am scared of becoming a victim, and I find it so disheartening that I would be just one more in a statistic. I am frustrated at our ‘leaders’ who refuse to act. Gun violence is not as much of an issue in any other country, and this is due to the culture around these weapons in our country. Prioritizing ‘freedom’ over millions of lives is something I will never understand. My point is that we have data and solutions, we just need lawmakers to act,” Kobey said. 

Prioritizing ‘freedom’ over millions of lives is something I will never understand. My point is that we have data and solutions, we just need lawmakers to act”

— Jax Kobey

On the other hand, there is a notion that gun violence is credited to the people with the weapons rather than the weaponry itself. A sophomore who wishes to remain anonymous uses weapons such as guns and bows to hunt for food and feels the ownership of guns is a right that should be maintained. “I think we should be allowed to own guns because if you own a car, a pool and a gun, someone is three times as likely to be killed by the car or drown in the pool. Personally, my family owns guns to hunt and for protection against the Klan and other antisemites,” the student said. 

This controversial topic within our school is proportional to the debate within our country. The incidents that happened all the way in California have reached communities even on the opposite coast and have highlighted repeated calls for change.