Skip to content

What we know about guns and hate in light of the March 2021 Atlanta shootings


Last Updated: 4.28.2021

Learn More:

On March 16, 2021, eight people were shot and killed in three separate metro Atlanta massage parlor shootings. Seven of those fatally shot were women. At least one other person was shot and wounded. 

The motive of the shooting remains to be determined, but according to authorities, six of the eight killed were Asian women. This raises concerns that the shootings may have been motivated by racial animus. Atlanta police noted that the suspect voiced having “sexual addictions” and may have visited these businesses in the past. Although the motivation behind the shootings is unclear, Stop AAPI Hate called the shootings “an unspeakable tragedy” for both the victims’ families and the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community as a whole, which has “been reeling from high levels of racist attacks.”

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a rise in violence against the AAPI community, fueled by xenophobia, misogyny, and racism, and enabled by guns. And whatever the motive, this incident is a devastating tragedy for the AAPI community as a whole.

The pandemic and hate against the AAPI community

  • According to the most recent data, hate incidents targeting Asian Americans rose by nearly 150% in 2020, with Asian American women twice as likely to be targeted as men. Stop AAPI Hate received 3,800 reports of anti-Asian hate from March 2020 to February 2021, with 35% of discriminatory acts happening at businesses. Even before these disturbing trends appeared, we had already seen the deadly impact of the former president’s racism and misogyny. Fueled by racism against Latino communities, the El Paso shooter’s white supremacist manifesto could have been taken straight from the former president’s Twitter feed. 
  • Any time the former president, or NRA leadership, or right-wing media extremists repeat racist tropes about the pandemic, the entire AAPI community is placed in even more danger.
  • There is an intersectional dynamic in that others may perceive both Asians and women and Asian women as easier targets.

Misogyny and gun violence

  • The horrific, misogynistic public attacks we saw are sadly just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to violence against women. Every month in the U.S., an average of 57 women are shot and killed by an intimate partner.
  • By a more than 2:1 margin, racially-motivated attacks against Asian Americans during the pandemic targeted Asian-American women.
  • While there are many reasons for this kind of misogyny and violence, weak gun laws are a key factor in the risks women in the U.S. face. And while some of this is going to take a long time to address at its core, strengthening our gun laws by reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act can go a long way toward protecting women right now.

The Latest