A horrific start to the new year in California

Kristen McGuire, Opinions Editor

Graphic by Ray Alarcon Marquez / The Runner

The new year has brought an enormous amount of grief and hopelessness to all of us who live in California. Two extremely horrific shootings happened in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay. These are the deadliest of the six mass shootings that California has seen so far in 2023.  

The mass shooting in Monterey Park occurred on Jan. 21 and resulted in the tragic deaths of 11 individuals. According to Associated Press, this tragedy is “the worst mass shooting in Los Angeles County history.” The victims were celebrating the Lunar New Year at Star Ballroom Dance Studio when their lives were suddenly taken away.  

The gunman, Huu Can Tran, 72, fired shots into the studio using his semi-automatic weapon. After murdering 11 people, Tran entered another dance studio.  

The Los Angeles Times reported the following day that officials stated, “two community members disarmed him, took possession of his weapon, and the suspect ran away.”  

Tran was found dead after taking his own life.  

The tragedy in Half Moon Bay occurred only two days after the mass shooting in Monterey Park. On Jan. 23, seven people were murdered at their place of work by Chunli Zhao, 66. Zhao targeted two different mushroom farms with a semi-automatic weapon. CNN reported in an article on Jan. 25 that Zhao legally owned this weapon. He was arrested and taken into custody.  

I don’t know if we will ever truly understand why individuals like these two men would do something like this, but that doesn’t mean we should forget it happened. People lost their lives because these individuals were able to possess semi-automatic weapons.  We, as a society have become desensitized to the horrific tragedies that continue to plague not only our state, but our country. It is impossible to truly feel safe going anywhere. We are forced to accept the reality that gun violence is not going to go away. We are forced to constantly have our guard up at all times. California has 107 gun laws, which is the most out of any state in the country. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom attended a press conference following the Half Moon Bay mass shooting.  

Gov. Newsom stated, “We’ve seen a 55 % reduction in gun deaths when we initiated those progressive reforms from 1993 to 2017 and you look at our gun death rate, it’s 37 % below the national average. Gun safety works.”  

Gov. Newsom expressed in the press conference that he feels as though California is the only state putting laws in place to combat gun violence. 

“One state can’t do it alone,” Newsom voiced.  

Most states do not have anywhere near the amount of gun safety laws that California has. Gov. Newsom expressed his frustration with Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who has not said anything about the tragedies that occurred in his home state. It is concerning that he did not even express any condolences to the families of the victims. Gov. Newsom stated that republicans have blocked gun safety reform “every step of the way.” Both parties must come together to ensure that the proper laws are in place to stop gun violence.  

We, as a country, cannot keep enduring this kind of trauma and act like it’s normal.