I look at the two pictures, one of Amerie Jo Garza, the ten-year-old honor student at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. The other of her classmate, Xavier Lopez, holding his honor roll certificate.
These students were a big part of America’s diverse future.
And now they are a big part of America’s failure—our failure to take action to prevent horrific shootings like the one at Robb in Uvalde.
Garza and Lopez are just the first of 19 second, third and fourth grade students, identified so far in the Uvalde Shooting that has claimed 21 lives total.
Uvalde, a small town two hours west of San Antonio, is now at the top of our country’s most recent high-profile shootings that took place this month in Buffalo, Dallas, and Laguna Woods.
A grocery store, a hair salon, a church, and now a school.
Of course, a school.
The victims at Robb Elementary appear to be mostly Mexican American kids.
This is the negative side of diversity.
These May shootings have shown that no community escapes the pain of gun violence, having also claimed African Americans, Korean Americans, and Taiwanese Americans.
Unfortunately, we know this story all too well. We have lived it before.
And I have said this before.
I hate guns.
But I hate wimpy attempts at gun control more.
I remember watching the news on Dec. 14, 2012. I was in a restaurant looking up at a TV monitor thinking, this has to be it. Twenty children in Connecticut gunned down? This has to be the time for hard-headed politicians to finally deal with their gun lobby addictions and take action to stop the carnage.
But it was not. It was not enough.
And so we have had more shootings. Like the high school shootings in Parkland, Florida. The Pulse nightclub in Orlando. The outdoor music festival in Las Vegas.
Unfortunately, I could go on.
President Joe Biden expressed our nation’s frustration during a nationwide address Tuesday night.
“Why are we willing to live with this carnage,” the president said. “Why do we keep letting this happen? Where in God’s name is our backbone?”
Biden has called on Congress to pass a weapons ban that was federal law in 1994 but was allowed to expire in 2004. That’s when our polarized and divisive politics kicked in. And it remains so to this day. Some like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) continue to argue for shooters and guns as constitutional rights. Others dare to suggest school shootings wouldn’t happen if teachers had guns.
And yet before our politics became so nasty, it was another school shooting that forced politicians to create a sensible assault gun ban in California that spurred that old federal law
On Jan. 17, 1989, then 8-year-old Elizabeth Pha, a Cambodian refugee, was playing on the monkey bars at the Cleveland School playground in Stockton, Calif., when Patrick Purdy, took out an AK-47 and opened fire on his elementary school alma mater.
After firing 106 rounds, five children were dead, 30 wounded, and then Purdy took his own life.
Elizabeth, one of the lucky survivors recalled seeing her friend Rathanar, 9, get hit by bullets and fall to the ground.
When I talked to Elizabeth years later, she recounted the incident. She told me she prayed.
“Please, God, please, God,” she recalled. “Immediately it stopped, the gunshots. It was a miracle.”
The real miracle though was that California was able to pass an assault weapon ban that has withstood legal challenges to this day giving the state some of the most restrictive laws in the country.
California is one of the few states that has a constitution that does not explicitly guarantee an individual the right to keep and bear arms.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges in federal court. The state ban includes semi-automatic firearms, and the sale of ammo magazines that can hold more than ten rounds.
The man whose duty it will be to make sure there’s no backsliding on the assault weapons ban in the Golden State, is Attorney General Rob Bonta, the first Filipino American to be the state’s top cop.
Bonta was appointed by Gavin Newsom last year and is running to keep his job in the June 7th California primary.
Hard to imagine the weapons ban, or Uvalde not being mentioned now, as Bonta, who grew up in a rural part of California similar to Uvalde, seeks the statewide vote.
Certainly, our community should be supportive of Bonta’s work so far that includes an unwavering commitment to keep the assault weapons ban intact.
In 2020, 76 percent of AAPI called “gun control important or extremely important,” according to an AAPI Data/Asian American Voter Survey.
And now in 2022, this issue is of critical importance that demands some action. Just look at the pictures of Amerie Jo Garza and Xavier Lopez.
NOTE: I will talk about this column and other matters on “Emil Amok’s Takeout,” my AAPI micro-talk show. Live @2p Pacific. Livestream on Facebook; my YouTube channel; and Twitter. Catch the recordings on www.amok.com.