Asian American community leaders called for solutions to gun violence ahead of President Joe Biden’s Southern California visit.
On Tuesday, Biden is scheduled to visit Monterey Park, where 11 people were killed during a mass shooting earlier this year amid celebrations to mark the Lunar New Year.
The bloodshed has intensified fears about gun violence among those in the Asian Pacific Islander community on the heels of a rising tide of hate crimes in recent years.
There have been 10,905 hate incidents against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders between March 19, 2020 to December 31, 2021, reported STOP AAPI Hate, a coalition launched in March 2020 by a multigroup of Asian-American civic organizations to track and respond to incidents of hate, violence and harassment to their community.
“After three years of trauma that so many of us are living with day in and day out, it’s critical that we have the conversation around gun safety given what has happened,” said Manjusha Kulkarni , the executive director of AAPI Equity Alliance, who’s also a co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate.
Around 3,000 Asian Americans are impacted by gun violence every year, Kulkarni said, citing such as examples over the decades as the 1989 Cleveland Elementary School shooting in Stockton, during which six Southeast Asians died, as well as the 2021 Atlanta shooting, which left six women of Asian descent dead.
“We absolutely need common-sense solutions to address widespread gun violence. We see that over 100 mass shootings have happened just in 2023, those solutions can include and should include background checks, a re-examination of the ban on assault weapons, so that we are not experiencing these frequent killings,” she added.
Women and elderly people in the AAPI community have disproportionately experienced verbal harassment, racism, discrimination, and sometimes physical attacks, Kulkarni said.
“We need answers, and we need our elected officials to rise to the challenge, and pass legislation to keep all of our communities in California and throughout the U.S. safe,” she said.