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With Biden arriving, Asian American community leaders call for action to address gun violence

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.

Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena, said the shooting “sends chills” throughout the whole Asian-American community.

“That’s why it’s so important for us to be united and to heal. That’s why it’s also so important for President Biden to come here, to help the community and to console the community,” she said.

San Gabriel Valley is home to more than half a million Asian Americans. Nine cities in the area, including Monterey Park, are majority-Asian.

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 legislations to keep all of our communities in California and throughout the U.S. safe,” she said.

Monterey Park Councilmember Yvonne Yiu said Biden’s visit shows his support for the Monterey Park community. She is excited that the president will bring gun-control bill to the legislature. And she hopes the president’s visit will result in more federal funding to buoy its recovery effort.

“This is a time to have more restriction and control,” she said.

Chu is among leaders who have linked the rise in hate crimes against Asian at least partially to pandemic-era resentment, fueled in part by former President Donald Trump’s usage of the term “China virus” to describe COVID-19.

Chu, meanwhile, herself was recently on the receiving end of what she called “racist” comments by Republican Rep. Lance Gooden of Texas, who questioned her loyalty to the government, amid the deepening gap between the GOP and Democrats in Congress.

Gooden had previously suggested that Chu should not have access to sensitive classified information because she defended Dominic Ng, Biden’s appointee to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Advisory Council. Ng had been accused of having ties to the Chinese Communist Party, prompting a group of Republican lawmakers to ask the FBI to investigate him.

“I think that Judy Chu needs to be called out,” the Texas Republican said during an interview with Fox News in February, “I question her either loyalty or competence. If she doesn’t realize what’s going on, then she’s totally out of touch with one of her core constituencies.”

Democratic lawmakers rushed to Chu’s defense, but despite all the pushbacks, Gooden defended his remarks in a tweet on Feb 26 by pointing to Chu’s vote against a resolution creating a select committee to investigate China. In the tweet, he also cited unsubstantiated information reported by the conservative outlet The Daily Caller about Chu’s ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

“I am outraged, I am disgusted and I am angry, because their accusation is based on a stereotype of Asian-Americans that we are foreigners in our own land no matter how long we have been here, and how much we contributed to the society,” said Chu.

The accusation has made Chu, the nation’s first Chinese-American congresswoman, to “want to fight back even harder” and defend others who have been accused this way, she said.

Source: Orange County Register

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