CALIFORNIA – At least three mass shootings have occurred across northern and southern California, leaving nearly 20 dead and several students feeling helpless.
On Jan. 28, three people were killed in Beverly Hills with at least four injured. On Jan. 23, 66-year-old Zhao Chunli was arrested after killing seven people and injuring one person in what is being deemed an act of workplace violence in Half Moon Bay, California. On Jan. 21, Huu Can Tran, a 72-year-old Asian man killed over 10 people and injured 10 others when he opened fire at a Lunar New Year celebration in Monterey Park, California.
California ranked first place in the country for gun law strength by Everytown For Gun Safety, the world’s largest gun violence prevention organization. Database State Firearm Laws reported that California had up to 107 gun laws. Democratic state Gov. Gavin Newsom took to Twitter and other news outlets to voice his frustrations about the inconsistency of gun safety measures being passed on the federal level.
“Nothing about this is surprising. Everything about this is infuriating. The Second Amendment is becoming a suicide pact. Americans are being gunned down on our streets, in dance clubs, at work. And the @GOP don’t give a damn. Time to act, Congress,” Newsom said in a tweet.
The string of mass shootings in California has left Howard students, such as sophomore psychology major and Oakland, California, native Kalaya Jones, feeling helpless.
“I was a little desensitized to it, but also, like, scared and saddened because that shouldn’t happen …. It’s ridiculous that we’re dealing with things like this …. I just feel like of helpless because what can I truly do? And especially, like, having family over there in California and me being on the east coast, that’s kind of hard to navigate,” Jones said.
Jones was able to check in with her family and have a teary-eyed conversation with her friend, Leah Schlageter, who is a student at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) and had plans to visit Monterey Park the day before the shooting. With other friends from home visiting her, Schlageter was headed to the area for dessert, but the group settled for something else near campus due to 90-minute traffic.
“I think it was just terrifying …somewhere that I was so quick to potentially go to, even the night before …I think it was just fear in my head,” Schlageter said.
“I recognize that I’m white, and a lot of it wasn’t targeted towards me, but it’s still just absolutely terrifying that someone could just run up into a place and shoot like 10 people, and there’s not really much you can do about it. I think that’s where most of my fear and utter shock from it comes. It’s like really nothing stopping these people from doing that,” she continued.
Although she says she’s often numb to gun violence, the proximity of these recent shootings brought Schlageter to tears. She visited Half Moon Bay countless times with family and Beverly Hills being a little over 10 minutes from UCLA’s campus.
According to the Gun Violence Archive (GVA), a nonprofit gun data-tracking organization, there have been over 50 mass shootings this year alone. Mark Bryant, the executive director of GVA, attributes the growing concern about gun violence to social media.
“I honestly think that social media is a strong contributor. We see people get wound up. There are small, closed groups that just wound themselves up. … If we go back to 2016 and 2020 politics, even on the left-hand side, … we had people spewing up on each part of the left, and it was hostility and anger that you would not normally see for people on the same team, but you saw it,” Bryant said.
Referencing President Joe Biden’s signing of a bipartisan gun bill into law last summer, Bryant says the assessment of the impact of these laws will take a while to be felt since they are long-term solutions. Further, he contests that getting illegal guns off the street and gun owners practicing proper stowage of their weapons will help, too.
Copy edited by Alana Matthew