MONTEREY PARK, Calif. — Vice President Kamala Harris arrived outside of the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park Wednesday night, stopping to take a look at each of the victims’ names and pictures from Saturday’s deadly mass shooting before placing a bouquet in front of the memorial.
Harris told reporters the nation is mourning the loss of the 11 people killed and nine others injured, while also advocating 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, California, was at the vigil following Harris’ visit holding a sign that read “What about gun control?”, saying she has been disappointed with local officials not taking a strong stance on gun violence.
“My community is more upset and angry at what happened here,” Michelson said. “Everybody else has just been talking about thoughts and prayers, and that’s good for a short minute, and then it’s time to actually do something.”
Michelson said she did not hear any of Harris’ words Wednesday, but added it was something she’d “be willing to get behind.”
“The question is, what exactly is she willing to do and where this goes,” Michelson added. “It’s always the same after a mass shooting — a little bit of talk, and no action.”
Biden calls for swift congressional action
The Monterey Park shooting came days before seven people were killed in two shootings near the Northern California community of Half Moon Bay Monday. Neither Harris nor President Joe Biden has confirmed whether they will be traveling to Half Moon Bay this week, but Biden said he’s spoken to California Gov. Gavin Newsom and local leaders and pledged the federal government’s support.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif) introduced new legislation Monday that would ban assault weapons and raise the minimum purchase age for assault weapons to 21.
The gunman used a modified semi-automatic weapon in the Monterey Park shootings. Authorities have not yet determined the motive of the gunman, 72-year-old Huu Can Tran.
Biden urged Congress to “act quickly and deliver this assault weapons ban to my desk,” but the bill is not likely to be passed through the Republican-led House.
“Even as we await further details on these shootings, we know the scourge of gun violence across America requires stronger action,” Biden said in a statement.
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Vigils have been held every day since the shooting, including the roughly thousand people that gathered outside of Monterey Park’s City Hall Tuesday night. Those at the vigil spoke about not letting the shooting define the city and a need for gun control.
“This is a community that so many have aspired to, from so many diverse places, looking to fulfill their dreams,” said councilman Thomas Wong.
Paul Hsu, a 77-year-old Alhambra resident, said he told Ming Wei Ma, the 72-year-old manager of the studio was killed in the shooting, nearly a decade ago the Star Ballroom Dance Studio needed an armed security guard in front of the entrance, but the idea was dismissed because of costs.
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Contributing: Joey Garrison and Tami Abdollah, USA TODAY
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