Lawmakers mark 3rd anniversary of Atlanta spa shootings, call for stricter gun laws

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Members of Georgia’s Legislative Asian American Pacific Islander Caucus held a press conference to commemorate the deadly shooting spree at three metro Atlanta massage spas nearly three years ago.

Key points:

  • At the conference held at the State Capitol on Friday, State Rep. Ruwa Romman highlighted the tragic impact of the mass shooting, especially on the Asian community, as the majority of the victims were Asian women.

  • The lawmakers criticized Georgia's gun laws, emphasizing the need for stricter gun laws.

Catch up:

  • On March 16, 2021, Robert Aaron Long, the then 21-year-old shooter, purchased a rifle and went on a shooting spree at two Asian spas and a massage parlor in Atlanta and Acworth, resulting in the deaths of eight people, including six Asian women.

  • Long has since pleaded guilty in Cherokee County and is serving a life sentence while awaiting trial in Atlanta, where prosecutors seek the death penalty. Despite Long denying ethnicity as a motive, many Asian American groups believe otherwise. The shootings occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic and were widely perceived as hate crimes, contributing to the “Stop Asian Hate” movement.

The details:

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  • The shooting incident sparked unity among Georgia's AAPI communities, resulting in the formation of one of the largest AAPI Caucuses in the country within the state legislature, comprising 11 members. Today, these lawmakers advocate for stricter gun laws and enhanced safety measures in Georgia, including initiatives to incentivize the purchase of gun lock boxes for safer storage at home.

  • State Rep. Michelle Au previously introduced a bill advocating for a three-day waiting period for gun purchases, aiming to prevent tragedies like the Atlanta spa shootings. Despite her efforts, the legislation failed to pass. Au remains steadfast in her belief in the necessity of a waiting period law to avert similar incidents in the future.

  • “Any time you are trying to move the needle on an issue that’s so politically entrenched as gun safety legislation, you have to recognize you're in it for the long game,” Au told 11Alive News.

What’s next:

  • The Atlanta Justice Movement is hosting an event to honor the victims of the Atlanta spa shootings on Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Korean Community Center in Norcross. The gathering will include Asian American leaders, activists, artists, and community members. Similar events are planned in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City, with livestreams available for those unable to attend in person.

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