More than 400 Chinese Americans join Pennsylvania gun club

Updated: 2016-07-29 12:03

By By Amy He in Philadelphia(China Daily USA)

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Asian Americans may be among the least likely group to own guns in the US, but within that group, Chinese Americans probably are even less likely to do so. The Greater Philadelphia Chinese Gun Club reflects a changing attitude toward gun ownership in Chinese communities across the country, however, says one of the club's founding members.

"For Americans, gun ownership is in their blood. It's part of the culture and part of their identity. For most Chinese, however, it's not something they're naturally interested in. But it's becoming not safe to not have a gun," said Li Ran, one of 10 co-founders of the club, which began in 2013 after the group originally met through an online forum to talk about their shared interest in shooting.

Now the club has more than 400 members, and it has grown so much that Li said it is creating a new paid-membership level, which will offer members discounts at various stores and restaurants across Pennsylvania.

Li said the club's biggest goals are promoting gun safety and self-defense capabilities for Chinese Americans. The group teaches basic firearms knowledge, gun-related legal knowledge and proper usage. It also organizes exercises at shooting ranges in and outside of Philadelphia, as well as various other outdoor activities and community-building exercises, he said.

Pennsylvania allows people to openly carry a firearm if one has a proper license, but it is not allowed in "cities of the first class," making Philadelphia the only city in the state not to allow open carry.

Li said that the growing ownership of guns within the Chinese community is mostly in response to an increase in deadly shootings in the US and in Europe.

Li, who came to the US in 2002 to study at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, lived in Canada prior to that, and said that Canada - despite having similar levels of gun ownership per capita compared to the US - has much less gun violence. He attributes that violence to growing anger that he says he sees in America.

Li mentioned the 2012 shooting in Aurora, Colorado, when a gunman fired into the audience at a midnight screening of the movie The Dark Knight Rises, killing 12 people and wounding seven.

"That's something I think about a lot. I have three kids and take them to the movies all the time," he said.

Asked what he would do as a gun owner if he and his family were in a similar situation, Li said: "If I could protect my family by fleeing, we would flee. If we can hide, we will hide. But if the last choice is to use a firearm, I don't want to not even have that last choice."