A gunman fatally shot 10 people and wounded at least 10 others Saturday at a ballroom dance studio in Monterey Park, California, a city of about 60,000 people east of Los Angeles. He opened fire as many people in the city, which is predominantly Asian, were celebrating Lunar New Year’s Eve.
Many of the victims were in their 50s and 60s, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said, though he did not identify them.
The attacker, whom authorities identified as 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, is believed to have gone to a dance hall in the neighboring city of Alhambra. But he fled, according to authorities. Officers later found him in a parked van after he reportedly shot himself.
The gunman used “a magazine-fed semi-automatic assault pistol” that is probably not legal in California, Luna said. His motives remain under investigation.
“Gun violence must stop,” Luna said. “There’s too much of that.”
This type of mass shooting has become tragically common in the United States; what would be a rare horror in any other developed country is typical here. However, the cause is no mystery. The United States has an enormous number of weapons, making it easy for someone to carry out a deadly shootout.
It’s a point this newsletter has made before: all over the world, there are people who argue, fight over relationships, suffer from mental health issues, or hold racist views. But in the US, those people can easily get a gun and shoot someone else.
The data confirm this explanation. The United States is a clear outlier for both civilian gun ownership and the number of gun deaths among the world’s developed countries, as this chart by my colleague Ashley Wu shows:
If anything, the graph, which uses data from 2017 and 2018, underestimates the problem in the United States. The firearm homicide rate in the United States has increased in recent years, according to the Small Arms Survey.
The data exposes a clear trend: where there are more guns, there are more gun deaths. Studies have found this to be true at the state and national levels, and for homicides, suicides, mass shootings, and police shootings. Stricter regulations on firearms are linked to fewer gun deaths.
But efforts to reduce access to firearms have mostly stalled in the US, unable to overcome Second Amendment interpretations from the Supreme Court, mixed public opinion and a closely divided federal government.
Thus, the United States continues to experience more mass shootings and gun deaths than its peers. Monterey Park, California is just the latest tragedy.
More about the shooting
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