The newly-formed Asian American and Pacific Islander Gun Organization has only been around for a few weeks, but the group is already attracting a lot of interest, particularly in the Bay Area of California, where several of the AAPIGO’s founders are from. The organization is set to host its first meet-and-greet at a California gun range next month, and co-founder Patrick Lopez says he’s glad to see that hundreds of people have responded expressing interest in attending or joining the new outfit.
“The response has been very nice,” said Lopez, who is of Asian American descent. “The focus (of the group) is to educate and promote safe gun ownership with an emphasis on also providing resources to those who might not otherwise have access to information due to language barriers or other obstacles.”
By all accounts, the number of anti-Asian hate crimes continues to grow, with one study from the Stop AAPI Hate group based out of San Francisco State University citing over 1,200 self-reported accounts of violence and bigotry in California since the pandemic began. The Bay Area accounted for 706 of those accounts. A recent survey conducted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation puts the number of new Asian gun owners at 46% in the first two quarters of 2020.
For [co-founder Vincent] Yu, the recent mass shootings that killed eight people at three Atlanta-area spas, six of whom were Asian women, was the catalyst for him to get involved.
“I already owned a firearm for sports purposes, and I found that I shied away from the stigma of guns,” said Yu. “But what created a spark for me was the Atlanta shootings. It called (hate crimes) to attention, and I felt this anger and sense that I wanted to do something good, something productive.”
[Co-founder Scott] Kane, who is white, felt the same tug to make a difference following a more personal encounter. Kane’s Asian wife and their mixed-race child were verbally abused and spat upon by a truckload of men driving by them one afternoon as the family was walking down the street.
“My wife and daughter were shaken and in tears, and that got me thinking, ‘What if I wasn’t there?’ How can I protect my family if one of these (explicative) followed my wife home?” he wrote in a blog on the group’s website.
The new group says its inclusive and open to all ethnicities, and while its focus is on outreach to new and would-be gun owners, the goal is to educate and “promote safe and responsible gun ownership in the AAPI community.”
In addition to the meetup at the Livermore Rod and Gun Club scheduled for early next month, the group is also hosting a webinar in a few weeks to help members navigate California’s restrictive concealed carry system. AAPI GO says they’re hoping to show strength in numbers “by applying for CCW permits as a collective citing the same rationale: #stopaapihate”.
This kind of grassroots activism is great to see, particularly in a state so hostile to our Second Amendment rights. It’s going to take a lot to turn the tide of anti-gun nonsense in California, but AAPI GO is doing its part to ensure that the human right of self-defense and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is available for all responsible citizens.