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Opinion: Half Moon Bay Mass Shooting Hits Too Close to Home

4 mins read

Ways to support the Half Moon Bay farm community that was impacted by the shooting are linked at the bottom of the article.

On Monday afternoon, while M-A students were in sixth period, a 66-year-old man used a semi-automatic handgun to shoot eight Asian and Hispanic people at Concord Farms and another nearby nursery, both just 25 miles from M-A. He killed seven people, while the eighth is in critical condition at Stanford Medical Center. Half Moon Bay is a small, tightly-knit farming community of a few thousand farmworkers who own or operate farms with their families. All of the victims and their families lived on the farms where the shooting took place. 

Details about the event:

  • The shooter has been an employee at both farms.
  • He used a semiautomatic handgun, and acted alone.
  • 7 people were found dead, and 1 critically injured.
  • The victims were of Asian and Hispanic descent.
  • Both locations of the shooting were large rural properties with housing for many workers and families.
  • The first shooting took place at Mountain Mushroom Farms on San Mateo Road at approximately 2:20 p.m. 
  • Half Moon Bay Police were dispatched at 2:22 p.m.
  • The second location was Concord Farms on Cabrillo Highway South, a mushroom farm one mile away from the first location.
  • Both instances of violence took place near farmworker housing. There were many witnesses, including children.
  • The suspect was found at 4:40 p.m. in the parking lot of the Half Moon Bay Police Substation, with the murder weapon in the passenger seat of his car 

Click here for official updates from the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office.

There have been more than 40 mass shootings in 2023. We as a student body have largely become desensitized to this devastating violence; on the occasions that I hear about these events, I hardly react to them anymore. However, the deaths at Concord Farms hit home for me in many ways. As I sat through my classes yesterday, I felt stunned and disconnected from the world around me. My usual numbness to gun violence disappeared as I realized that I, or someone I care about, could be present during a shooting while visiting a pumpkin patch, picking berries, or exploring a field of sunflowers in Half Moon Bay. 

It is easy to see this violence as just another iteration of the story we’ve heard so many times, and many of us would rather not let it faze us. Nonetheless, it’s natural to be angry and confused. This shooting was close to us, on roads we drive on and farms we have visited. 

The shooter, who has no known criminal history, shot five people, many of whom he worked with, then drove a mile away and killed three more. He perpetrated the shooting around farmworker housing, at the same time as farms are struggling to recover from the atmospheric river that engulfed the Peninsula for weeks. He then drove to the police station and waited for the police to find him. 

I’m angry that our federal policy makes it possible for large-scale gun violence to occur, and I am disappointed that the perpetrator felt comfortable doing this. He could easily travel between multiple locations in the middle of the day and end the lives of seven people in front of their colleagues and family. This should not be possible.

No matter what, we will always be in danger as long as individuals have access to guns. California has some of the United States’ strictest and safest laws about firearms. However, the states adjacent to California, namely Oregon, Nevada, Idaho, and Arizona, have gun-safety laws that are significantly less stringent than California’s. This reality makes gun violence seem inevitable. State Senator Josh Becker, who represents San Mateo County, spoke to CNN on Monday night about the shooting. He said, “We pride ourselves in California as having some of the toughest gun laws in the country. But I’ve got to tell you, those don’t matter a bit when there are seven people dead in your own community.” Furthermore, this mass shooting was the closest one ever to M-A, leaving many of us afraid and helpless. Nonetheless, the proximity of the violence makes it possible for us to fight the harm that it caused and take action to prevent similar tragedies in the future.

For one, we can take advantage of California legislation that allows people to actively keep themselves and their communities safe. California’s Red Flag Law makes it possible for a person to lose access to a personal firearm if someone in their life (including a family member, friend, coworker, employer, or teacher) fills out a form to notify the court that that person is a threat to themself or others. If there is someone in your life with a gun that you feel puts them or others in danger, follow this link to try to ensure that they no longer have access to that weapon. Becker also told CNN, “We led the nation in red flag laws, which are now spreading across the country, fortunately. But they are enforced unevenly, education is uneven, and we have to really work. This all operationalizes at the local level.” We must use the tools we have to ensure that those around us are aware of the ways that they can keep themselves and others safe.

The following resources are some ways that you can financially support the Half Moon Bay community in the aftermath of this violence. Support the farmworkers by donating to these fundraisers: 

  • Donate here for the workers at the mushroom farm that has been devastated by the recent flooding and the shooting. The proceeds from this fundraiser will be dispersed among nonprofits and emergency services that are serving the farms at this time.
  • Donate here to a fundraiser organized by McCahon floral nursery (across the street from the shooting) to cover funeral expenses for the families of the victims.
  • Donate here to a fundraiser by Ayudando Latinos A Soñar (ALAS), a local community group that is collecting funds to support the local farmworker community and those who lost their lives on Monday. Donations will go directly to the farmworker community.

Amala Raj is a senior at M-A, and it is her second year at the Chronicle. She enjoys using journalism to explore education policy and highlight extraordinary individuals in the community. She is also a part of M-A’s Leadership-ASB, and spends her free time at the beach.

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