Asian Americans are stocking up on guns amid the surge in hate crimes targeting them since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, a report said Thursday.
Though police have stepped up patrols in Asian American communities to guard against the attacks, many are choosing to take their defense into their own hands.
“There are more Asians being introduced to firearms,” Jimmy Gong, the owner of Jimmy’s Sport Shop in Mineola, Long Island, told Forbes. “Before, there was never gun culture in the Asian community. But after the pandemic and all the hate crime going on, there are more Asians buying guns to defend themselves.”
Gong, who emigrated from China in the 1980s, said that his gun sales have doubled during the pandemic — following a nationwide trend — with Asian Americans making up about half of his clientele.
Many of his customers prefer shotguns to handguns, Gong explained, because state law requires a pistol permit to carry a handgun.
Proudly describing his store as the first Asian-owned gun shop on Long Island, Gong told Forbes that he markets directly to the Asian community, including fellow immigrants.
“[Those with] Green cards can own guns too,” he said. “You don’t have to be a citizen. But a lot [of] people don’t know that.”
The trend is also evident across the country.
“We have a lot of Asian-American customers buying guns,” Jerry Hwang, a salesman at Wade’s Eastside Guns in Bellevue, Wash., told Forbes. “They’re coming because of the pandemic and the riots, of people messing with stores and messing with people’s property.”
Hwang said that most customers opt for handguns or rifles.
“They’re buying basic Glocks and AR-15s, basically for self-defense,” he said.
The fears of the Asian American community were stoked again Tuesday when Robert Aaron Long shot up three Atlanta-area spas, killing eight people, six of them Asian women, according to authorities.
Investigators, however, are yet to reach a formal conclusion.