California

Asian-American groups are pushing for federal action on guns in the wake of mass shootings in California

After two mass shootings in California’s AAPI communities, representatives of Asian American and Pacific Islanders urged politicians to reform gun laws.

Members of the AAPI’s Anti-Gun Violence Steering Committee held a press conference Wednesday to call for action and education on how US gun violence is affecting Asian Americans.

The committee held the conference following a Jan. 21 shooting that killed 11 and injured nine during Lunar New Year celebrations in Monterey Park, California, and a shooting that killed Monday in Half Moon Bay, California. seven people were killed and one injured.

Po Murray, chair of the Newtown Action Alliance, explained that while California has strong gun control laws, neighboring states do not. Murray stressed the need for federal legislation to reduce gun violence.

Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) again introduced a pair of bills to reduce offensive weapon proliferation. The Assault Weapons Prohibition Bill would ban assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and other high-capacity ammunition feeding devices. The Age 21 Act would raise the minimum age for purchasing assault weapons from 18 to 21.

Rep. David Cicilline (DR.I.) will also introduce a version of the first bill in the House of Representatives, according to a press release from Feinstein’s office.

Murray said House action is critical to preventing gun violence.

“Not a single policy or modest policy addresses this problem. That’s why we’ve pushed for a comprehensive strategy to end this crisis,” Murray said.

Murray commended President Biden’s support for gun reform, adding that the administration meets every two weeks with a coalition of gun violence prevention leaders.

AAPI community advocates said an increase in hatred against Asians since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated a history of violence against Asian Americans.

“The reality is that anti-Asian American rhetoric has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Varun Nikore, executive director of the AAPI Victory Alliance. “Obviously, as Asian Americans, we are a uniquely diverse community, but we share a common concern about gun violence.”

Community leaders encouraged organizations and policymakers to advocate for more education, outreach and research related to gun safety and anti-Asian violence.

“Every life lost to gun violence was preventable,” said Refujio “Cuco” Rodriguez, chief equity and program officer of the Hope and Heal Fund in California.

Rodriguez called on organizations to continually provide resources to families and communities of victims following mass shootings.

He noted the importance of philanthropic support to communities affected by gun violence and that such support should be equitable and ongoing.

“Support to affected communities should extend well beyond the time of the incident,” Rodriguez said.

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