Asian Americans are arming themselves in response to the growing xenophobia surrounding COVID-19.
A spike in gun sales has been reported in parts of the West Coast, where a number of confirmed coronavirus cases emerged in recent weeks.
Ever since the first coronavirus cases were reported in the United States, members of the Asian community have experienced a spate of racist comments, bullying, harassment, and coronavirus-related hate crimes.
— Tony He (@TonyySays) February 4, 2020
According to Arcadia Firearm and Safety owner David Liu, some of his customers no longer feel secure and are worried about facing violence due to their ethnicity.
“They worry about a riot or maybe that people will start to target the Chinese,” Liu told the Daily Beast.
Asian Americans, who are often placed in the “other” category in gun-ownership surveys, are known to have historically low rates of gun ownership.
Lawyer Shaoming Cheng explained that the reason relatively few Asian Americans own guns is due to restrictions in their home countries.
“In Asian countries, weapons are banned for the public, so that’s probably the main reason,” he told Asian Fortune News.
However, fear of being targeted has resulted in Asians changing their attitudes toward gun ownership, causing a five-fold rise in sales for Liu’s store over the past two weeks. Liu noted that an overwhelming amount of his buyers are of Chinese descent.
Meanwhile, Wade’s Eastside Guns in Bellevue, Washington saw a six-fold increase in sales during the same period.
Cole Gaughran, the store’s internet sales manager at Wade’s, also found that most of the new customers who are first-time gun owners are almost entirely of Asian descent.
“The main thing I’m hearing is that they don’t wanna get jumped because of their race,” said Gaughran.
The increase of gun purchases in Bellevue was confirmed by the local police, which noted the spike in demand for background checking as it is a requirement for most first-time gun buyers in Washington.
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