AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Interested in getting next week’s story and other AllSides newsletters in your inbox? Click here to subscribe to the AllSides Story of the Week Newsletter.

A pair of mass shootings stunned communities across the state of California and reignited the national debate on gun violence.

The Details: On January 21, an armed man opened fire inside the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, California, killing 11 people. Two days later, an armed man in Half Moon Bay, California, killed seven people. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 40 mass shootings in the U.S. since the start of 2023. The archive defines a mass shooting as an incident where four or more people are shot.

Both shootings were carried out by elderly Asian men in predominantly Asian communities. All the victims of the Monterey Park shooting were Asian and older than 50. The victims of the Half Moon Bay shooting were either Asian or Hispanic. The Monterey Park shooting took place on the eve of the Lunar New Year. Also called Chinese New Year, it is a major Asian holiday celebrated to herald the arrival of spring.

The Debate: Following the shootings, President Joe Biden renewed his call for a national ban on assault weapons and many left-rated outlets published editorials calling for policy reform. The Editorial Board of the Los Angeles Times (Lean Left Bias) reflected on the unique circumstances of the shootings to list the wide array of locations and demographics that have suffered gun violence, determining, "there is no common profile of the killers, but they have one thing in common: They have guns," adding, "in one way or another, we hand them their weapons."

Some right-rated outlets published editorials questioning calls for legislative action, citing California's already stricter-than-average gun laws to cast doubt on the efficiency of regulatory legislation in curbing gun violence.

The Editorial Board of the National Review (Right Bias) questioned a statement by the White House, which responded to the shootings by urging Congress to pass the "Assault Weapons and High-Capacity Magazine Ban." The article criticized the parameters of the bill, which it determined is crafted more around "aesthetics than functionality," to argue that "the notion that the ambitions of nihilist mass murderers are likely to be meaningfully constrained by arbitrary limitations on the way that certain legally available firearms look is fanciful and unsubstantiated."

The Discourse: Left-rated media outlets featured editorials from Asian writers reflecting on the events. In MSNBC (Left Bias), Tiffany C. Li wrote that the pair of shootings "compounds the trauma Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have faced during these last few years of rising anti-Asian sentiment."

Many right-rated writers and political figures criticized those on the left linking the tragedies to racism, citing the fact that the shooters and victims were almost exclusively Asian to determine race not relevant in these incidents. An article in The Blaze (Right Bias) compiled statements from Democratic leaders made before the race of the shooter was known, most of which connected the shootings to bigotry, hate, and white supremacy, determining that Democrats "wasted no time" making a racial connection to the shootings.

More from AllSides

Snippets from the Right

California reels from string of mass shootings despite having some of the strictest gun laws in US

Fox News (news)

"The massacre and another Monday night in Half Moon Bay have left many unanswered questions as to how it could happen in California, a state which Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna reminded reporters is known for its strict gun laws."

Biden’s Gun-Control Misdirection

National Review (opinion)

"There is no obvious answer to the problem of mass public shootings, and, by implying otherwise, President Biden is doing a profound disservice to the voters he serves. Leaving aside the constitutional and political problems that such a move would present, it remains the case that there is no clear statistical link between the prohibition of so-called “assault weapons” and the rate of mass shootings"

Snippets from the Left 

Why older mass shooters like the California gunmen are so rare

Vox (analysis)

"According to data from the National Institute of Justice, mass shooters between 1966 and 2021 were on average 34 years old, and those over the age of 60 accounted for a little over 3 percent of all mass shootings, which are defined as shootings in which four or more people are killed."

Monterey Park shooting is horrific, but all too familiar

Los Angeles Times (opinion)

"The gun lobby’s evil genius is so profound that it has convinced millions of Americans that the only way to defend themselves against all the violence perpetrated by a populace with too many guns is to acquire more guns. And the only way to live with this odd version of freedom is to ensure that every school, store, church and party could at any moment become shooting galleries."

Snippets from the Center  

California Shootings Come After Spike in Asian Americans Buying Guns

Newsweek (news)

"The shootings come after gun ownership soared during the pandemic, with firearm sales to Asian Americans rising by an estimated 43 percent in the first half of 2020, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Although data on firearm use among Asian Americans is limited, they have had low gun ownership rates historically, The Guardian reported last year."

California reels from back-to-back shootings that killed 18

Reuters (news)

"The latest spate of lethal gun violence in California was the worst in decades in a state known for relatively strict firearms regulations. U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday renewed his call for Congress to pass a national ban on assault weapons."

See more big stories from the past week.