President Joe Biden will travel to Monterey Park on Tuesday, where he will discuss his efforts to reduce gun violence in America, in the wake of the Lunar New Year dance-hall shooting in the San Gabriel Valley city that left 11 dead, the White House confirmed Wednesday, March 8.
Details were scant on the visit — but it appears to be one stop on a larger West Coast swing as, according to reports, Biden gears up for a re-election run.
Nonetheless, the Monterey Park visit will surely echo the president’s State of the Union address in February, during which he called for an assault weapons ban.
“On Tuesday, March 14, the President will travel to Monterey Park, California. The President will discuss his efforts to reduce gun violence,” according to a brief White House statement.
Monterey Park has emerged as yet another American city where such violence has shaken lives and sparked discussion on legislation to better control assault weapons.
On the night of Jan. 21, 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, a resident of Hemet, walked into the Star Ballroom Dance Studio carrying a MAC-11 semi-automatic pistol, igniting a rampage that left 11 dead. Minutes later he would walk into another dance studio in Alhambra. He likely would have killed more if not for the actions of a worker there, Brandon Tsay, who disarmed him and kicked him out.
Biden, during his State of the Union Speech, pointed to the Monterey Park tragedy, and to the actions of Tsay — as a moment to pass legislation that would ban assault weapons.
“He thought he was going to die, but then he thought about the people inside,” Biden said in the speech. “He saved lives. It’s time we do the same as well. Ban assault weapons now. Ban them now — once and for all.”
That call has been echoed by local politicians who represent Monterey Park, including at the federal level. Longtime San Gabriel Valley Congresswoman Judy Chu, D-Pasadena, who with Rep. Anna Eschoo, whose district includes Half Moon Bay, called for Congress to formally condemn the gun violence that led to the mass shooting in both areas. Just two days after the Monterey Park shooting, seven people were shot and killed in the small Bay Area city.
Biden’s trek to Monterey Park follows that of Vice President Kamala Harris’s Jan. 25, when she met with victims’ families and visited their memorial. Like the president, she called for tighter gun restrictions during her visit.
“We will always, as a compassionate nation, mourn for the loss and pray for those who survive in their recovery. But we must also require that leaders of nations who have the ability and the power and the responsibility to do something, that they act,” Harris said during her visit.
As the media glare has subsided and the visits from high-profile leaders dwindled, the impact of the shooting are still very much a part of the city’s landscape, even as life moves on.
With support dollars flowing in through private donations for the impacted families, the City Council authorized the city manager to execute an executive order directing the California Community Foundation to administer the distribution of donation funds. The Monterey Park Community Fund has received donations from all over the world, according to fund administrator Amy Lee.
And just last week, the City Council voted unanimously to support an array of bills at the state and federal levels that seek limits on assault weapons, as well as restricting the ability to carry a loaded firearm in public.
Businesses in the area near the shooting, already struggling from the pandemic, saw foot traffic dwindle in the aftermath of the shooting. Such troubles brought Chu and U.S. Small Business Administration head Isabel Casillas Guzman to the neighborhood for a listening tour last month.
Within the business community is the Monterey Park dance hall where the shooting happened. As many businesses look to pick up the pieces, owner Maria Liang has said it was still early to decide on whether to reopen the beloved site that had seen so much tragedy. Meanwhile, the Alhambra dance studio, owned by Tsay’s family, has reopened with hopes of being a place of emotional healing in the area.
It was unclear if Biden would reunite with Tsay, a San Marino resident, whom the president personally invited to attend the State of the Union speech in D.C.
The White House did not comment on Biden’s itinerary, but according to Politico, Biden’s trip West will take him to Rancho Santa Fe, north of San Diego. There will also be likely stops in other areas of Los Angeles and Las Vegas, Nev., according to the site.
Politico’s reporting noted that the trip is planned for Monday and Tuesday, but that the trip was still being finalized and specifics remain fluid.
Biden was last in the L.A. area back in October, when he visited Brentwood and Orange County, while the midterm elections were in full swing. Biden also attended a fundraiser and traveled to Irvine Valley College in Orange County, where he spoke about lowering costs for Americans.
Like then, things are heating up anew on the 2024 election front. Reports suggest the president will be looking to raise money in advance of a potential reelection run.
The trip comes on the heels of a visit by a potential presidential hopeful, too. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis visited Southern California on Sunday and delivered a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, which while billed as a book talk, had all the trimmings of a presidential campaign in a state that will play a key role in determining the GOP candidate. He spent the speech contrasting what he sees as the manifold successes of Florida against the failures of California and liberals writ large.