“More Guns Is Not The Answer”

by Rev. Norman Fong

August 19, 2019

norman fong

One of my first funerals I had to officiate as a minister, back in the early 1980s, was for my friend who asked: “Could you help me bury my brother?” It was a real tragedy. His brother had shot himself. Back in those days, Chinatown didn’t have many guns in homes. In light of all the talk about having more “Gun Control” because of the mass shootings recently at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, El Paso Texas, and Dayton Ohio, I did some research about gun violence and found out that like my friend’s brother, having guns around does not necessarily make us safer.

In a recent study done on gun violence in America, (from 1999-2016), there were 572,537 total gun deaths but 336,570 or 58.8% were from suicides and 11,428 were unintentional deaths. In another study just completed in March of 2019, there’s an average of 36,383 gun deaths by intent each year and the majority 22,274 were determined to be suicides – even more than the 12,830 homicides. NEARLY 2/3’s of gun deaths are from suicides. The United States has the highest gun homicide rate, 25 times more than other high income countries and of course, we have the highest rate of gun ownership (per capita) in the world.

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What really bothered me researching the facts about gun violence was that kids and teens are dying from gun violence at an alarming rate. Firearms are now the SECOND leading cause for kids dying in America. The leading cause is from car deaths and the third is from cancer. This is unbelievable. A woman’s risk of being murdered increases 500% if a gun is present during a domestic dispute. What I have found out is that having guns around does not make it safer for our kids, teens and women. I’m sure guns psychologically make a lot of people FEEL SAFER against a potential robber, but guess what, those with legal guns at home often get their guns stolen by property criminals on average of 232,400 per year!

As a minister of peace who also wants a safer world for all of us, I just don’t want to do another funeral where some young person having a problem in life uses a gun because it’s too easy to find one around the home. I, too, am upset about the violence on many of our seniors in Chinatown and around the city. However, do you think more guns is the answer?

I was heartbroken when I saw an article and picture of a community leader having to teach little kids what to do if they hear a gunshot in school or in the neighborhood. With all the mass shootings, I guess I’ve come to the point of asking – Why are there so many guns around in America? Why should any civilian have an automatic weapon like the AR 15 which was used in the recent mass shootings? It’s just too easy to get these automatic weapons at gun shows or from out of state. We need all states to agree through Congress to ban these automatic weapons. We have to do something more. I would imagine that even the Police community would like to get more guns and weapons off the streets. It’ll make their job of community policing easier as too many criminals have automatic weapons.

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We definitely need the City to do more and increase community policing in Chinatown, Visitacion Valley and all over the city to protect our seniors especially. There are also mothers all over the city and country who have had to bury their kids from gun violence. The mothers are saying to us now: “We need more Gun Control”. I just don’t want to see a new “arms race” in the Chinese Community which may bring about more violence in our city. More guns is not the answer.

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Originally published in Sing Tao Daily on August 18, 2019

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