Stop Asian Hate

Fear remains a year after mass killings in cities with large AAPI communities

By Gilda Balan, Correspondent

SAN FRANCISCO – One year ago this week, two deadly hate crimes took place in California. One happened in Monterey Park and the other in Half Moon Bay.

The first mass killing took place on January 21, 2023 during a Lunar New Year celebration at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park. Two days later, another mass shooting happened at Half Moon Bay.

The first incident resulted in the death of 11 people and injury to nine others, while the second incident saw seven lives lost, with an eight victim critically hurt.

While mass murders have tragically become practically commonplace in the US, it is worth noting that Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay are places with large Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) populations.

Directly or indirectly, fear has become so widespread in the AAPI community that a growing number have resorted to purchasing firearms.

Today, some 20 percent of the AAPI population live in homes where at least one resident owns a gun.

“There is a growing recognition that we all have to be prepared for the next time because there will be a next time,” said Varun Nikore, executive director of AAPI Victory Alliance, “It’s just the unfortunate reality that we all have to live through.”

An online story in The Reckon Report written by Saleah Blancaflor focused on the still present reality of Asian hate coupled with mass killings, which the AAPI community has cited to justify their fear as well as the need to protect themselves in the event of a worse-case scenario.

Weeks after the back-to-back shootings, AAPI organizations and activists spoke out. They also mobilized.

Said Andy Wong, managing director of advocacy for Stop AAPI Hate, “The shootings made it clear that all Americans —  including Asian Americans – are impacted by gun violence.”

“The back to back timing of these horrific shootings at the beginning of Lunar New Year, which is an important holiday for many of our Asian American communities, really compounded the pain, trauma, and fear our communities were feeling,” Wong added.

While more Asian Americans support tighter gun safety laws than ever before, according to The Reckon Report story, “research also shows gun ownership has grown among Asian Americans in the last few years.”

Among the data cited were a 2021 National Firearms Survey which found that many new gun owners in the pandemic were people of color; a National Shooting Sports Foundation survey that found that over 27 percent of firearm retailers saw an increase in Asian American customers in 2021; and previous NSSF research which found that there was a 43 percent rise in Asian Americans purchasing firearms in 2020 compared with 2019.

(This resource is supported in whole or in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American)