Content warning: discussions of mass shootings and violence
On Saturday, a gunman killed 11 people and injured nine others in Monterey Park, a predominantly Asian suburb in Los Angeles County.
Just two days later on Jan. 23, another gunman killed seven people and injured one other at a mass shooting in Half Moon Bay, a city in San Mateo County.
In both shootings, the victims were mostly Asian, with the exception of Marciano Martinez Jimenez, as were both of the perpetrators, who were elderly Asian men — a sharp contrast to the typical profiles of mass shooters in the United States, which, according to the National Institute of Justice, are younger white men.
Because of this, initial calls of “Stop Asian Hate” have been replaced by online vitriol mocking initial characterizations of the shootings as Asian hate crimes and downplaying their significance to the Asian American community.
“[My] immediate responses have been shock and sadness, and also anger and fury,” said Berkeley alum Uma Krishnan, who grew up in San Mateo County. “It’s clear that these crimes are hate motivated.”
Krishnan added that the process of obtaining a gun in the United States is far too easy, and that policy is not changing fast enough.
Berkeley City Councilmember Sophie Hahn also noted that gun control in the United States is not stringent enough.
“My heart aches for all the victims and families impacted by these acts of mass gun violence. The pace of carnage from shootings in our State and Country is sickening,” Hahn said in an email. “Those who perpetrate these heinous crimes must be held fully accountable.”
For Hahn, this means expressing outrage towards responsible parties in power, such as the NRA and the Republican Party.
Hahn added that last year she and Councilmember Terry Taplin co-sponsored a measure to address the “scourge of ghost guns,” and that Berkeley, alongside the state of California, “must continue to legislate against America’s destructive gun culture.”
“After the Half Moon Bay shooting, because it’s so close to my family, my mom had a sit down conversation with me about safety,” Krishnan said. “I find this all completely ridiculous because this is my home, and it’s just very disheartening that this is our reality, and we don’t see much being changed.”
According to Krishnan, the fact that both shooters were Asian is far from the point. She disagrees with those arguing that “Asian-on-Asian crime” isn’t a hate-based crime.
For her, she said, the point is that Asian people are being killed and people are not doing enough about it, particularly in a state like California that is supposedly progressive.
“At the end of the day, these are spaces that are predominantly Asian and you are making the decision to go shoot them up…” Krishnan said. “It is still hatefully charged. The discourse itself, like people saying, ‘because it’s an Asian perpetrator, it’s not the same thing’ is very dangerous because it makes the Asian community more susceptible and it detracts from the [Stop] Asian Hate Movement.”