Biden’s State of the Union guest Brandon Tsay says he is in therapy after Monterey Park shooting

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In the aftermath of the shooting tragedy in Monterey Park, California, last month, the families of the victims say they will use their spotlight as guests at the State of the Union to speak about the impact of gun violence on their Asian-American community.

Brandon Tsay, who is attending as a guest of President Biden and who disarmed a mass shooter in a packed ballroom, said he had to deal with the aftermath of the incident.

“I still live in a state of anxiety and fear where I want to project my feelings and emotions to connect with other human beings. And currently, I found the strength to find professional help,” Tsay, 26, told NBC News, saying she has attended several therapy sessions since the tragedy.

Tsay said that seeking help is not common in the Asian-American communitybut the shooting has changed his perspective.

«In my environment, growing up, I feel that I was reinforced [with] the idea that I should… be strong, keep your feelings bottled up and try to be the dominant male person in your house,” Tsay said. «But now that I’ve had some time to process, I now know that I need to seek professional help because these feelings that have come up with this situation are too much of a burden to bear on my own.»

July Phun, the niece of Muoi Dai Ung, who was killed in the Jan. 21 shooting, will be a guest of Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., and said her message is not to overlook the needs of the Asian-American community.

“What we can do is advocate and advocate on behalf of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders so this doesn’t happen,” Phun told NBC News. “This is a beautiful city. But the way it can be more beautiful, the way it can be more wonderful and diverse, is that there are resources for the kind of complex community that we have.»

It’s been about two weeks since the shooting that left 11 dead, and processing the tragedy has been difficult for both State of the Union guests. Tsay opened up about his own mental health issues following the incident, in which he pounced on the gunman, who entered his family’s ballroom, Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio.

Phun said he is still in shock, shifting between a heady mix of sadness and anger as his family makes arrangements after his aunt’s death. Ung’s daughter, Phun’s cousin, lives abroad and had just returned home to visit her mother after more than a decade apart.

“She was telling people that she came to see her mother and now she has come to bury her mother,” Phun said. “And when I asked him, ‘What can I do?’ Her response to me was, ‘Can you bring my mother back?’”

Phun said that hopefully the story of his aunt, an avid ballroom dancer known for being outgoing, will resonate with others and show that such tragedies can affect anyone.

“She was not my aunt. She was our aunt. She was all our aunts. We all have an aunt who loves to dance. We all have an aunt who is lovely. We all have an aunt who went through hard times trying to find joy,” Phun said. “And anyone who analyzes the situation will also see themselves and his families in my family. That’s what I hope people see, that it’s not just our family tragedy. It’s all of us.»

Chu said that in addition to highlighting Phun’s family, she is advocating for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, more awareness of red flag laws that could prevent those perceived as threats from having access to firearms, and more outreach to Asian American communities in when it comes to gun safety.

“It is so evident from Sandy Hook to Uvalde to Buffalo and now to Monterey Park that we have to pass laws that keep Americans safe,” Chu said. “There are things we have been working on for a long time, but the urgency is very clear.”

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