In Monterey Park, site of mass shooting that killed 11, lawmakers urge support for gun control bills

Gun Rights

Lawmakers and community leaders gathered Monday morning at Monterey Park City Hall to support legislation they hope will reduce guns on the streets, months after 11 people were killed in a mass shooting on Lunar New Year’s Eve.

The lawmakers and gun-control supporters called for adoption of three measures — AB 732, AB 733 and AB 1638 — introduced this year by Assemblymember Mike Fong (D-Alhambra), whose district includes Monterey Park. The bills are in committee in Sacramento and will be heard Tuesday by the Assembly Public Safety Committee.

Assembly member Mike Fong (D-Alhambra) speaks during a press conference on Monday.

Assembly member Mike Fong (D-Alhambra) speaks during a press conference on Monday, April 24, 2023, in Monterey Park, CA. It was announced on Monday legislation that they hope will prevent similar shootings in the future. The first bill would remove all guns from the possession of someone convicted of a crime using a firearm. The second prevents law enforcement or other government agencies from reselling guns to the community.

(Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times)

“Hours after the mass shooting on Lunar New Year’s Eve, I stood alongside our then-Mayor Henry Lo, Monterey Park City Council and community leaders in front of a shattered community,” Fong said at the news conference. “We lost 11 beautiful lives. Loved ones who enjoyed dancing, living life to the fullest, just going about a night on the town.”

Monterey Park Mayor Jose Sanchez speaks during a press conference on Monday.

Monterey Park Mayor Jose Sanchez speaks during a press conference on Monday, April 24, 2023, in Monterey Park, CA. Sanchez and other leaders announced on Monday legislation that they hope will prevent similar shootings in the future. The first bill would remove all guns from the possession of someone convicted of a crime using a firearm. The second prevents law enforcement or other government agencies from reselling guns to the community.

(Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times)

As of Jan. 1, there are nearly 24,000 people who are prohibited from possessing a firearm in California but have one registered to their name, according to the California Department of Justice.

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The legislation comes after news reports of alleged gunmen who were able to buy firearms and kill their victims, despite being under restraining orders that prohibit them from doing so.

AB 732 would increase the roles of the court, probation and prosecuting attorneys to ensure that guns are relinquished during a conviction, meaning that the court won’t be able to close a case until the firearm has been handed over. The bill would also require someone to be designated to receive updates on armed prohibited people in their area and to report to the California Department of Justice their efforts to get those firearms relinquished.

AB 733 would prohibit local and state agencies from selling firearms, firearm parts, body armor and ammunition.

In the event of an emergency in an area in which 10% of the population speak a language other than English, AB 1638 would require that the local agency provide information in the other language spoken by that population.

Monterey Park, a largely Asian enclave, was the site of a Jan. 21 shooting that left 11 people dead and nine wounded at a dance studio. The suspect, 72-year-old Hemet resident Huu Can Tran, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Torrance the next day.

“If guns made us safer, we’d already be the safest country on the planet,” Prosecutors Alliance Executive Director Cristine Soto DeBerry said at the news conference in support of the legislation. “In this nation, we have more guns than people, but we do not have safety.”

“Monterey Park, in light of the recent tragedies, has been transformed,” Monterey Park Mayor Jose Sanchez said at the conference. “And that has become today, an agent of change. The change our community wishes to see is a society that is free of gun violence.”

Lanaisha Edwards with Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice spoke at a press conference on Monday.

Lanaisha Edwards with Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice spoke at a press conference on Monday, April 24, 2023, in Monterey Park, CA. She lost two family members to gun violence. It was announced on Monday legislation that they hope will prevent similar shootings in the future. The first bill would remove all guns from the possession of someone convicted of a crime using a firearm. The second prevents law enforcement or other government agencies from reselling guns to the community.

(Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times)

LaNaisha Edwards, the member engagement associate for Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, spoke about how she lost her two younger brothers to gun violence.

“Unfortunately, my family is not alone in being victims of [the] American gun violence epidemic,” she said. “Gun violence has become a horrifying fixture in our communities.”

The National Rifle Assn. Institute for Legislative Action, the lobbying arm of the NRA, released a statement opposing AB 732 and AB 733, urging its supporters to oppose the measures.

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