News of the deadliest U.S. mass shooting since last year’s massacre at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, prompted early speculation that it was the latest evidence of a widespread spike in anti-Asian violence.
Michael Luo wrote in the New Yorker that his thoughts initially drifted to the conclusion that the shooting, which left 10 dead at a Lunar New Year celebration near downtown Los Angeles, California, was motivated by racial bias.
When the gunman was identified as an Asian man, however, he recognized the need to re-evaluate his gun reaction, wondering if he had been “[t]oo quick to believe that a racial motivation might be the cause.”
Luo was not alone, though. The Los Angeles Times published an article similar to those from other news outlets with the headline: “Lunar New Year massacre raises fears of anti-Asian hate even as detectives seek a motive.”
In a tweet on Sunday, Democratic Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass included in her expression of sympathy a reference to the ongoing investigation and whether it would find that “these murders were motivated by Asian hate.”
As details about the motive began to emerge, early chatter about the likelihood that it was a hate crime began to dissipate.
According to Chester Chong the Chairman of the Los Angeles Chinese Chamber of Commerce, the mass shooting in Monterey Park was a domestic issue between a husband and wife and not a hate crime. pic.twitter.com/mo6a2Gh3i3
— Kevin Dalton (@TheKevinDalton) January 22, 2023
Instead of focusing on the factors that led to this specific shooting, left-leaning pundits and politicians shifted to boilerplate arguments in favor of additional gun control laws.
Despite the fact that his state already has some of the nation’s strictest firearms regulations, Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom called for even more Second Amendment restrictions in a statement on Sunday.
“Monterey Park should have had a night of joyful celebration of the Lunar New Year,” he said. “Instead, they were the victims of a horrific and heartless act of gun violence. … No other country in the world is terrorized by this constant stream of gun violence. We need real gun reform at a national level.”
Authorities say the gunman fatally shot himself after the massacre and Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna indicated that “detectives are looking at every possibility” as they attempt to pinpoint a motive.
“Everything is on the table,” he said in a media briefing. “We don’t know if this is specifically a hate crime defined by law but who walks into a dance hall and guns down 20 people?”