Recent media accounts have drawn attention to certain individuals in the Chinese American community promoting gun ownership as a solution to crime. As Asian Americans who have grieved with too many families and friends of victims of violence, we vehemently disagree. In fact, promoting gun ownership makes us less safe, and puts our community — especially our children — in greater danger.
This isn’t just our opinion. Data shows that increased prevalence of firearms is associated with increased violent crime, homicide, rape, robbery, and assault. Rather than protecting children and families, firearms are the second leading cause of death for youth in America, killing 3,000 youth and injuring 16,000 every year, including homicides, suicides, and hundreds of accidental shootings. Guns have proven not only to be ineffective as a means of self defense, but add risk for the community by increasing the likelihood of accidental deaths, or that guns will be stolen and used to commit crimes.
Sensationalized media stories about Asian Americans promoting gun ownership also distort the facts. Asian Americans strongly and consistently support gun control, particularly among Chinese Americans. According to the 2018 Asian American Voter Survey, 80% of Chinese Americans support stricter gun control in the country. The minority of pro-gun Asian Americans who have been given an outsized media platform do not represent the majority of us who believe self-armament is not the answer for public safety.
We are gravely concerned about the violence against those most vulnerable in our communities. The recent violent assaults on seniors including sexual assaults on elderly Asian women has justifiably increased community anxiety and fears. However, it is irrational to expect that arming seniors with guns will end the violence. Exploiting people’s fears to promote guns sales will only further endanger the community, and make us less safe.
This is the moment to demand stronger gun control along with a complete ban on assault weapons, particularly in the immediate aftermath of the horrific mass killings in Gilroy, El Paso, Dayton, and other cities. We need to work collaboratively with community organizations and neighborhood leaders to strengthen gun control and expand existing strategies to get guns off the street. At the same time, we also need to support community-based solutions to prevent all forms of violence. In contrast, gun proponents are working with the NRA and gun corporations that profit off fear in our communities.
There is much we can and should do to make our communities safer – including the creation of a comprehensive plan for gun control, and improving data and reporting on hate-motivated crimes. We need a broader, more holistic and resourced strategy to improve public safety, and we cannot advance that strategy without reducing the number of guns on the streets and in our homes.
Gordon Mar is a San Francisco supervisor representing District 4. Cynthia Choi is co-executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action. Rev. Norman Fong is pastor at Chinatown Presbyterian Church.