Senator Raphael Warnock and other Democratic senators are calling for tightening restrictions on gun laws in the US after a shooter in Atlanta opened fire on workers and patrons at three spas and massage parlors last week.
While much of the attention after the shooting has been placed on the fact that six of the eight people killed were Asian American women, Democrats have also said the tragedy shows the need to limit who can buy and own guns.
“We need reasonable gun reform in our country,” Mr Warnock, a Georgia Democrat, said in an interview on Sunday with NBC.
The senator highlighted the contrast between the Republican-run Georgia state government’s haste to pass laws that would restrict voting access and its inactivity on gun reforms.
“This shooter was able to kill all of these folks the same day he purchased a firearm. But right now what is our legislature doing? They're busy under the gold dome here in Georgia trying to prevent people from being able to vote the same day they register,” Mr Warnock said.
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“I think that suggests a distortion of values — when you can buy a gun and create this much carnage and violence on the same day, but if you want to exercise your right to vote as an American citizen the same legislature that should be focused on this is busy erecting barriers to that constitutional right.”
The shooting in Atlanta has brought the rise in anti-Asian American violence into the national spotlight in recent days.
Following a week of rallies and vigils across the country, an emotional hearing in Congress, and remarks to the nation from Atlanta delivered by Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, hundreds of people gathered on Saturday for a “Stop Asian Hate” rally steps away from Georgia’s State Capitol building.
Bee Nguyen, the first Vietnamese American elected to Georgia’s House of Representatives, said that the victims had “no one in their community to watch their back ... and we are left with deep grief and rage and sorrow.”
The suspect in the shooting, Robert Aaron Long, who is white, has been charged with multiple counts of murder and one count of assault.
He has admitted to authorities that he was the shooter, claiming he viewed it as an attempt to purge his “sexual addiction.”
Advocates have said Mr Long’s case enmeshes violent misogyny with racist tropes of sexualising Asian women.
While Mr Biden and the White House have said little about the need for broad gun control reform in the days since the shooting, the president’s former boss, Barack Obama, forcefully demanded restrictions.
“Yesterday’s shootings are another tragic reminder that we have far more work to do to put in place commonsense gun safety laws and root out the pervasive patterns of hatred and violence in our society,” Mr Obama tweeted.
Alex Woodward contributed to this report.
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