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Mass Shootings Divide Asian Americans’ Views on Guns

Asian American organizers, gun owners, and gun control advocates are divided over how to address the twin rise of gun violence and gun ownership in their community, reports The Guardian. Even before the shootings, more than two-thirds of Asian Americans in California said they were worried about gun violence, the highest level among all racial groups, according to the 2021 California Health Interview Survey. Asian Americans have also expressed strong support for stricter gun laws more recently. Po Murray, the co-founder of the national gun control advocacy group Newtown Action Alliance, said that historically, gun deaths have been lower among Asian Americans, who haven’t been vocal about gun control in the past on a national scale, nor seen it as an issue that affects them. “I think things have started to change over the last few years since we’ve become targets of gun violence,” she said, noting the sharp rise of anti-Asian hate crimes as well as a series of high-profile mass shootings.

Some experts say Asian Americans’ growing familiarity with gun violence is also a sign of assimilation. Though countries like South Korea and China reign supreme in shooting sports, they’ve also placed heavy restrictions on civilian gun ownership. Newtown Action Alliance, along with the progressive groups AAPI Victory Alliance, MomsRising, and Chinese for Affirmative Action, formed the AAPI Against Gun Violence coalition to engage the Asian diaspora on the issue of gun violence prevention. The groups have been leading efforts to ban assault weapons and install safeguards like universal background checks and Ethan’s Law, which requires gun owners to keep firearms stored. Tighter gun laws, according to Tom Nguyen, founder of the firearms academy LA Progressive Shooters, are the “predictive” response from politicians after instances of gun violence. New restrictions on permits to carry concealed weapons in public, he said, wouldn’t stop people who have no intention of following the law, but would stop gun owners from “exercising their rights to protect themselves”. Nguyen said he expected interest in his academy to grow, as it often does after high-profile shootings. Many of his Asian students, he said, had bought their first guns over the past couple of years because they felt powerless amid a rise in homicides and violent crime.


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