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At Least 7 Dead in Half Moon Bay Mass Shooting: the Need for Revised U.S Firearms Policies.

Opinion

January 29, 2023

"Zhishen Liu, 73, Aixiang Zhang, 74, Qizhong Cheng, 66, Jingzhi Lu, 64, Marciano Martinez Jimenez, 50, Yetao Bing, 43, and Jose Romero Perez, 38." Taken directly from CBS BAY AREA, these were the seven victims who died at the hands of 66-year-old Chunli Zhao on Monday 23 2023 in Half Moon Bay, California. The shooting occurred at two land-scapping nurseries, where Zhao is believed to have been a worker at either or both locations - the victims were workers. An eighth victim, "Pedro Romero Perez," survived but was admitted to Stanford Medical Center with critical injuries.

The reason for this incident? A $100 equipment bill.

Zhao claimed that "a forklift he was operating was hit by a coworker on a bulldozer and that he was asked to pay $100 to cover the cost of the damage" - CBS BAY AREA.

According to the L.A. Times, it is believed that Zhao had driven from one location to the next, shooting the victims at each site (in front of children who lived nearby and had recently gotten off from school). He acted solely with a legally purchased semi-automatic handgun.

Zhao was arrested at 4:40 p.m. This was the same day, in a vehicle at the parking lot of a San Mateo County Sheriff's Office substation with an alleged attempt to send his wife a text message “along the lines 'See you in the next life.' ”

Zhao was charged on Wednesday 25, 2023, with seven counts of murder (enhancements including use of a firearm, great bodily injury, and multiple murders), one count of attempted murder, and one count of attempted murder, as stated by CNN. He is set to enter a plea at a hearing on February 16. However, until then, he will be held in custody without bail.

Picture Credit: WikipediaCommons

This incident would occur two days after the last gun shooting at Montero Park, where a gunman, 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, shot and killed 10 people - with an illegally purchased magazine-fed semiautomatic assault pistol-, injuring 10 others, before ultimately committing suicide before apprehension, and a week after another mass California shooting: 5 people dead at a home in Goshen, California on January 16, 2023. All of these incidents were mass shootings, or shootings which results in the fatalities of at least 4 people.

In comparing the Montero Park incident to the Moon Bay Area, one thing is evident: despite the fact that the weapon in the Half Moon Bay incident was purchased legally as opposed to the weapon at Montero Park which wasn't, both weapons were still able to result in horrendous outcomes' in the deaths of numerous people, as well as unrest among the minds of the victim's friends and families, and their communities. It really brings into question of the effectiveness of gun control laws in the United States.

At least 40 mass shootings have occurred since New's Year, and as of January 24th 2023, 1230 people have died due to gun violence. Not even a full month into the new year and there's already a death toll of over 1000 individuals as a result of guns. It has now been 5 days after this statistic, and there's no doubt that the death toll has increased.

If I wanted to discuss the facts about just how dangerous and possible American gun laws are making it for individuals to harm countless individuals, I could. I could spend time talking about the fact that the United States had 642 mass shootings in 2022, 692 in 2021, and 610 in 2020.

I could also spend time talking about the fact that from a chart taking data from 2017 and 2018, seeing the correlation between "Gun ownership and homicide rates in developed countries," it showed that the United States, with about 125 guns per 100 people, averaged 4-gun homicides per 100,000 people, a clear outlier when compared to Canada, France, Germany, etc.

However, by listing the facts, I am only reiterating the clear flaw that the United States has within its gun control system. The "patriotic" right of Americans to possess a weapon is also the same right that takes uncountable lives away from loved ones.

No matter the "justifiable" defences to allow the possession of guns, such as protection, one cannot deny that these are still the same guns used to harm people, most marginalized groups of people as a result of hatred and biases (killing of 5 individuals at an LGBTQIA+ nightclub in Colorado), in the name of "protection" and beliefs.

Yet, the United States government is not taking any practical next steps to solve the issue at hand. Laws for gun control are being "stalled," ensuring the dangers that guns pose to thousands, if not millions, of individuals.

Despite attempts at enforcing gun laws by restricting the sale of guns to certain types of individuals (underage, convicted criminals, etc.), banning concealed weapons, or the requirement of background checks upon individuals, "legislation has failed to garner enough support" to enforce the laws, as CFR stated. Since mid-2022, there have been no federal laws "banning semiautomatic assault weapons", the same weapon that was used to kill 10 people at Montero Park less than two weeks ago. Congress continues to fail in passing legislation regarding gun-control which will only result in more deaths and casualties in the United States at the hands of guns.

The supreme court needs to reevaluate its interpretations of the second amendment. We need to push for the development of action towards reducing gun causalities because, nowadays, we are getting to the point where we are unfazed by hearing of mass shootings- which could range from clubs to schools- because it has become very "normalized" and desensitized in American society.

Soon, without the enforcement of strict gun control, no one - especially of a marginalized group - will be comfortable exiting their homes without having the constant fear that there is a possibility that they might be at the receiving end of a gun.

It should be the government's job to protect individuals, and the realization should not have to come at the expense of the lives of countless individuals and the anguish and frustration of individuals tired of witnessing this very common tragedy.

Victor A.
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