According to gun merchants across the country, more Asian-Americans are coming into their stores to buy guns for self-protection. This comes after there seems to be a surge of racially motivated crime against Asians in the U.S. amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
One gun shop owner, Jimmy Gong, who owns Jimmy’s Sport Shop, mentioned that his sales have doubled since the pandemic started. He added that around half of his customers are Asian-American. Wong mentioned that prior to the pandemic, the Asian community in the U.S. didn’t have a gun culture. But now, more of them are buying firearms, as well as pepper sprays, in order to protect themselves due to the pandemic and the increase in hate crime.
Gong’s shop is not the only one who experienced this surge. Many gun merchants across the country have experienced a similar scenario.
According to Daniell Jaymes, their store, Poway Weapons & Gear in California, saw a 20% increase in Asian-American customers who are buying guns for the first time in their store.
Tim Hensley, the general manager of Ohio gun store Towers Armory, stated that they now see around five or six Asian-American people coming into their stores per day.
Hensley mentioned that people from the Asian-American community feel less safe at the moment, especially because of the shooting in Atlanta that happened a few days ago. In the said incident, most of the victims were of Asian descent.
Asian-Americans Buy Guns for Self-Protection As Hate Crimes Rise
The shooting in three Atlanta-area spas highlighted the violence targetting the Asian community in the U.S. Eight people were killed by a lone gunman during the incident, six of them were Asian women.
Robert Aaron Long, the gunman, claimed that race didn’t play much into his actions. However, given who the victims were, many say that it is undeniable.
In 2020, hate crimes targeting Asian-Americans spiked by 149%. Meanwhile, the overall rate for hate crime went down to 7%. Additionally, this surge started in March and April 2020. This is around the time when the COVID-19 pandemic started and when pandemic-related negative stereotyping began.
Since violence against Asians has increased, those of Asian descent have become a regular sight in firearm stores
According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, since the COVID-19 pandemic started, around 8.4 million gun purchases were made by first-time buyers. Many of them buy guns out of fear. Many are scared of possible civil unrest while some are wary of President Joe Biden’s gun control plans.
However, Asian-Americans fear for their lives. They want to protect themselves from racists who think they have caused the pandemic.