Why Has Asian American Gun Ownership Increased Since COVID-19?

Following the release of Covid-19 in China, people began to express their rage toward all Asian Americans living in the United States, displaying discrimination in both physical and verbal abuse, as in the case of six Asian women who were victims of Asian Hate crime in Atlanta.

According to NBC News, anti-Asian hate crime increased by 339 percent in 2021 compared to 2020, with approximately 10,380 reports of hate incidents from March 2020 to September 2021, primarily in city areas such as New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, and including both verbal harassment and physical violence.

With so many cases of Asian hate crimes on the rise, Michigan News reported that Asian Americans have armed themselves with Covid-19 effect in response to racism. According to research, increased hate crimes and racist acts against Asian Americans had a strong correlation with increased firearm purchases.

“Our data suggests that racism and its link to increased firearm ownership and carrying may put Asian Americans at elevated risk of firearm injury.” Hsing-Fang Hsieh, an assistant research scientist in health behavior and health education at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, stated.

This was becoming an increasingly difficult problem to solve in terms of protecting people who had experienced racial discrimination as well as neighbors or people around people who engaged in unsafe firearms behavior.

Another study, led by Tsu-Yin Wu, director of Eastern Michigan University’s Center for Health Disparities Innovation and Studies, and published in the Detroit News, found a strong link between the increase in firearms among Asian Americans and racist incidents.

According to Wu’s study, 6 percent of respondents said they bought a gun to feel protected – from racism when the pandemic began; 55 percent of those who bought a gun said it was their first time owning a gun. “It’s about how to keep it safe so that other people can’t get ahold of it when it’s loaded,” Wu explained.

Still, no solutions have been found to reduce the Asian hate from Covid-19, however, John C. Yang, the president and executive director of the nonprofit civil rights group Asian Americans Advancing Justice mentioned that “We must bring attention to the hate that impacts all communities,” he continues, “Especially during a time when groups are trying to divide and pit vulnerable communities against each other, we must remember that we are stronger together.”

STOP ANTI-ASIAN RACISM & CHINA BASHING RALLY at Chinatown Archway, 7th and H Street, NW, Washington, DC Photo: Elvert Barnes / Licensed Under: CC BY-SA 2.0

According to NYC Human Rights, some campaigns were held to combat anti-Asian discrimination, harassment, and bias, such as posting texts-fighting fear with facts. Graphics depict additional resources for victims of hate crimes, such as how to seek help from community-based organizations.

PBS NewsHour also mentioned some factors for how to respond to hate, such as reporting the hate crime or incidents by calling 911 immediately, checking in with Asian American peers, knowing the history of Asian American discrimination, and advocating for awareness. However, according to Endless Tide: The Continuing Struggle to Overcome Anti-Asian Hatred in New York, only 0.03 percent of anti-Asian attacks were reported in 2021.

Improvements should be made by developing better guidelines and standards for classifying incidents as possible hate crimes – Hate crimes are often underreported because victims are unsure whether or not to report them. Of course, all hate crime laws should be revised.

According to the Asian American Bar Association of New York, improving access and transparency in the reporting of hate crimes data – by disclosing the data of hate crimes, investigations, and prosecutions – could lead to a change in community trust in law enforcement.

The Police Chief also added that consistent reporting could lead to prevention – both victims and witnesses must report accurately and proactively, outreach to Targeted Groups, reporting hotlines and webpages, etc., even if they are unsure if it is related to hate crime. People must report hate crimes as soon as they witness them because victims of hate crimes experience more psychological distress than victims of other types of crimes, including depression, stress, and anxiety.

Everyone’s safety and rights should be protected, regardless of gender, race, or color, and it’s time to act by prioritizing efforts to prevent hate crimes. Asian Americans have been targeted; who will be next?

 

Read more: Race-conscious College Admissions Policies at Risk