As a political junkie, I am a big fan of number cruncher and prognosticator Nate Silver of the New York Times and his Five Thirty Eight blog. With the tragic massacre in Newtown, Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary School, there has been a raging debate nationally and online about the issue of gun ownership and gun control.
In Silver’s latest blog post, he analyzes gun ownership based on political affiliation and references a 2008 national exit poll and concludes: “Whether someone owns a gun is a more powerful predictor of a person’s political party than her gender, whether she identifies as gay or lesbian, whether she is Hispanic, whether she lives in the South or a number of other demographic characteristics.” For some reason, the 2012 national exit poll did not include the question of gun ownership, but from the 2008 data, gun ownership by race and political affiliation breaks down as this:
Personally, I am not surprised. To be honest, I do not know any Asian Americans who own a gun. From what I recall, I’ve personally fired rifles at summer camp as a kid for target shooting and did enjoy it a little bit – especially the small brass casings afterwards and seeing some of the deformed lead bullets after target shooting. In retrospect, I’m kind of surprised they let kids in the middle school age range in Massachusetts this kind of activity. The one gun owner I know in the San Francisco Bay Area is a white friend of mine who happens to be a Libertarian.
And here is why I am not surprised – most Asian Americans or their roots are from the post-1965 immigration reform era, and most Asian Americans in absolute numbers immigrated in the U.S. in the past twenty years. Civilian gun ownership in countries such as China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, etc. is essentially illegal. Generally, gun laws or ownership in most of the world outside of the United States are very restrictive.
Many have noted that the given America’s frontier culture and strong emphasis on individualism, that it’s no surprise that the United States has always had a strong gun culture, from the very roots of establishing the Second Amendment in our Constitution. Asian immigrants who naturalized as Americans and consequently their kids, never grew up with or were instilled with the concept of gun ownership nor practiced the tradition of hunting (and since most Asian Americans live in urban areas, are not necessarily exposed and then adopt hunting as a sport or hobby).