Vice President Harris urges tougher gun control laws at Monterey Park memorial: ‘Congress must act’


MONTEREY PARK, Calif. — Vice President Kamala Harris arrived outside the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park Wednesday evening and stopped to review the names of all the victims and photos from Saturday’s fatal shooting before handing out a bouquet in front of the memorial.

Harris told reporters the nation is mourning the loss of the 11 killed and nine others injured, while also calling for stricter gun control laws.

“Tragically, we keep saying the same things,” Harris said. “Congress must act. Should they? Yes. Can they? Yes.”

Melissa Michelson of Alhambra, Calif., was at the vigil following Harris’s visit, holding a sign that read “What about gun control?” She said she was disappointed that local officials did not take a firm stance on gun violence.

“My community is more upset and angry about what happened here,” Michelson said. “Everyone just talked about thoughts and prayers, and that’s good for a short minute, and then it’s time to actually do something.”

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Michelson said she hadn’t heard Harris’s words on Wednesday, but added it was something she would be “willingly support”.

“The question is what exactly she wants to do and where this is going,” added Michelson. “It’s always the same after a mass shooting — a little talk and no action.”

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Gloria Gonzales, a 71-year-old Monterey Park resident, came with her 25-year-old granddaughter, Regina Gonzales, to show support for a city she has called home for more than 60 years. Regina currently lives in Diamond Bar, California, but still feels the shock of the shooting in the city she grew up in.

“All week I’ve been like ‘holy crap, this really happened,'” she said. “It’s almost not real.”

Regina Gonzales added that Harris’s visit illustrates the seriousness of what the community is going through. Gloria Gonzales said she was very pleased and honored that Harris visited Monterey Park.

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“I think it will be a great morale boost for the people here in Monterey Park that they took the time for our community to come out and say words of encouragement,” said Gloria Gonzales.

Vigils have been held nightly since the shooting in the tight-knit community that has united people from different backgrounds to begin healing.

“We are strong here in Monterey Park. We are strong here and we will continue,” said Gloria Gonzalez. “I think it will bring together the community and all the different nationalities that are here.”

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Vice President Kamala Harris visits the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, California on Wednesday, January 25, 2023. Harris visited the scene of a shooting that claimed 11 lives to pay her respects and later met with the victims’ families.

New gun laws face an uphill battle

On Tuesday, seven people were killed in two shootings near Half Moon Bay, a Northern California community, just days after the Monterey Park disaster. President Joe Biden said he had spoken with California Governor Gavin Newsom and local leaders and pledged the support of the federal government.

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The president pointed to new legislation introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif, to ban assault weapons, urging them to “get that over to my desk ASAP.” The bill faces a tough climb in the Senate and is not expected to pass in the Republican-led House.

The gunman, identified as Huu Can Tran, 72, used a modified semi-automatic weapon in the Monterey Park shootings. Authorities continue to search for a motive behind the shooting.

COMMUNITY REELS: Monterey Park’s safe haven for Asian communities is shattered by mass shootings

Contributors: Joey Garrison and Tami Abdollah, USA TODAY

Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jordan_mendoza5.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Vice President Harris Pushes for Stricter Gun Laws on Monterey Park Property


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