Industry News Chris Cheng, APAGOA, and Firearm Ownership Forrest Cooper May 14, 2021 3 Comments, Join the Conversation The tricky thing about dealing with statistics and information is that we first must sort between facts and evaluations. A statistic itself has no value in a void, numbers are just numbers. And when it comes to firearms ownership, we pay attention to facts, polls, and numbers, and use them as the context of various evaluations. After winning the 4th Season of History Channel's Top Shot series, Chris Cheng was introduced to the politics of firearms ownership. In the United States, Asian Americans own less guns than any other demographic. So when Chris Cheng is advising APAGOA, short for Asian Pacific American Gun Owners Association, he makes sure to articulate what he thinks is the right evaluation to use to inform his goals. If someone were to think that the goal of APAGOA is simply to increase the percentage of gun owners in their represented demographic, they'd be wrong. Raising the percentage alone isn't specific enough, as Chris Cheng noted in an interview that the objective should first and foremost be to inform people about the responsibilities and options of owning a firearm for self-defense, so that they themselves can make an educated decision if it is right for them. As a result, the true goal is to increase the percentage of people who are both armed and informed. The community-building efforts of the organization isn't to turn the audience into widgets and numbers, but to be a resource where the benefit is knowledge, without taking away personal agency. Getting more Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to own guns is a short-sighted goal, and insufficient in the same way that it wouldn't really be considered a victory if more Americans could quote the Second Amendment. The fact, the statistic itself of ownership isn't the final goal, like the statistic of how many citizens have memorized a series of words doesn't make the concept thrive. Being able to quote the Second Amendment does not mean that one believes or understand what it means. In the same way, Chris Cheng argues that true education and community is more valuable than mere numerical representation. When asked about why Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have the lowest percentage of firearms ownership, Chris elaborated on two contributing factors. First, AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islanders) represents people from many different histories, countries of origin, and cultures. An American whose family emigrated from China will have a different cultural history and family norms than someone who moved from the Philippines to the United States. Following this, where some are reticent to trust the government, to others, guns themselves have culturally represented oppression from the powers that be. In the words of Chris Cheng, there are assumptions from within the Asian American and Pacific Islander community that are not made from those outside the community. It's not that non-AAPI peoples cannot understand these consistencies, rather, the point is to see them as the context to inform the goal. Instead of merely raising the number of gun owners, Chris Cheng suggested that a better goal would be to provide a resource that would inform more Americans resulting in them deliberately choosing to own a firearm, knowing the responsibilities by following up with developing the skillset and knowledge “I want to help people to understand that they are their own first responder, so that they have to think long and hard about what it means to be safe, so that they can decide if they want to add a firearm to their toolbox.” APAGOA When asked how he got involved with APAGOA, this is what Chris Cheng had to say: “Until the Last Year, I haven't really spoken much about my Asian heritage, because it's not something I have any control over, it's not an achievement or accomplishment. So when talking or being talked about, that was not something I wanted to focus on. About a year ago, that changed. It has become more important to me to talk about owning a firearm as an Asian American. Why is Firearms Ownership the lowest among Asian Americans, or Why do many Asian Americans have negative perceptions about firearms ownership. That's where it's become more important for me to talk about the Second Amendment through an Asian American perspective. I'm directly addressing this segment of Americans and this segment of the Gun Industry.” An aspiration of APAGOA is to continue to grow as a community, providing resources and support. By answering the questions that directly address some of the hesitancies about gun ownership, the organization can help people make educated decisions regarding their personal security. As an official advisor to APAGOA, Chris Cheng brings years of experience and the articulation of goals and objectives. Considering Why – Self Reliance One contributing factor to low gun ownership among AAPI citizens, according to Chris Cheng, is the country of origin. While the Philippines already has a culture of gun ownership, emigrants from China come from a culture that has viewed guns as tools of oppression. Another contributing factor that Chris Cheng identified is the relative perspective about cultural and political debates. One observation looks at how politically active various demographics are when it comes to guns, and for the AAPI community, it has rarely been on the table. Cheng talks about his experience and the virtue of Self-Sufficiency in relation to asking the question “How can the government help me?” Statistically speaking, Asian American political participation is also rather low, and this can be tied to both cultural backgrounds and gun ownership. With the recent climb in violent crime targeting Asian Americans, to Chris Cheng, it's not as simple as saying guns are the answer. There's a polarized debate out there that often lacks nuance. Education takes precedence over ownership. So merely raising the percentage of ownership is either insufficient or incorrect. For Chris, a vision of the solution looks more like a community where the people are well informed about firearms ownership so that they can make their own educated choice. “It is up to your community to live American values, to support our civil rights. I think part of being an America or being a citizen of any country is living out your country's morals and values. [It means] using our First Amendment rights by speaking out, using our second Amendment Rights through gun ownership. When you're silent, you're invisible. If you're not using your voice, why should anyone care about what's going on in your community?” Find out more about APAGOA here: apagoa.org Follow Chris Cheng: topshotchris.com More on RECOIL The Second Amendment is Alive and Well, Here's the Proof. Gun Deaths are Cultural. Here's the Statistics. Young Americans are Turning Down Gun Control. How to Gain Political Influence. 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