Amid the horror of the mass shooting in Monterey Park, California, was an astounding act of courage. Brandon Tsay, who was working at a nearby dance studio in Alhambra, disarmed the man who had just taken the lives of 11 Asian Americans.
It was a selfless act that saved many lives the night of Jan. 21. But when told he had been called a hero, Tsay said, “A lot of people have been telling me how much courage I had. … But you know what courage is? Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the ability to have adversity to fear when fearful events happen.”
This moment calls for all of us – our community, our leaders and our elected officials – to bring that courage to conversations about ending gun violence in order to protect the AAPI community.
Gun violence is an Asian American issue. It has devastated the AAPI community since before the current rise in anti-Asian attacks. From 2015 through 2019, more than 3,000 Asian Americans died from gun suicides, homicides and accidental shootings.
The recent killings are part of a long history of mass shootings in which AAPI people have been slain – from the 1989 elementary school shooting in Stockton, California, where a gunman killed five Asian American students, to the 2021 murder of eight in the Atlanta spa shootings, most of whom were of Asian descent.