HomeAsian AmericansAAPI coalition continues the fight against gun violence

AAPI coalition continues the fight against gun violence

by Matthew Yoshimoto, AsAmNews Intern

AAPI community organizations will fight against gun violence and highlight this as a top civil rights issue this Monday and Tuesday during the third annual convening of the AAPI Against Gun Violence Coalition in Houston, Texas. 

The conference will take place near the location of the Allen, Texas, shootings, in which four Asian Americans were killed among the eight victims in 2023, as well as the Uvalde school shooting in 2022. 

Varun Nikore, executive director of AAPI Victory Alliance, said they wanted to host this meeting in a place where gun violence was a prominent concern. Noting that AAPI communities often revere education, seeing the violence impact these children “brings us a level of fear, which is why we’ve now seen this issue rise to the top.”

Nikore shared that the AAPI Victory Alliance conducted a poll in Virginia last year, which found that gun violence was tied with employment and the economy as the top issue in the state. With this issue not even being in the top 10 issues a few years ago, Nikore stressed “how far this one specific issue has come in such a short period of time.”

“It’s incumbent upon all people in this election cycle to vote. And if gun violence is a top here issue for you, then you need to look at the candidates and figure out which candidates are trying to keep your kids safe. And which which candidates perhaps may give it rhetoric, but not do anything tangible. There is a clear distinction between candidates this election cycle, and we hope that folks make the right choice,” said Nikore to AsAmNews. 

Highlighting the “vicious” and “targeted rhetoric” toward the AAPI community under the Trump administration, Nikore said this created a “material impact” in the rise of hate and violence.

He said this rhetoric, in tandem with the National Rifle Association (NRA) promoting the purchase of guns to Asian Americans, led to an increase in gun suicides in the APPI community, making this a pertinent civil rights issue.

To advance this civil rights issue, Nikore shared that the conference in Houston will host speakers like Greg Jackson, who is the co-executive director of the Office of Gun Violence Prevention, among other gun violence survivors. There will also be a philanthropy panel and a cross-racial solidarity panel, among other opportunities. 

“I hope they feel supported, that they’re not alone, that there is access to resources … should something like this happen again, another mass shooting, which inevitably, but hopefully, [the community] will not only get connected to local state and national resources, but also that there are a lot of people in this movement who want to do something about it, namely, hold legislators accountable for action or inaction,” said Nikore to AsAmNews. 

Heer Nanda, undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, said she recently better understood the prevalence of gun violence after she was near a shooting that occurred on her campus this February. 

Nanda said she was studying in a building directly next to where a man fired several gunshots into the air, next to where AFX Dance, the Asian and largest student dance organization on campus, was practicing. 

“Hearing gunshots so close to me was something I never thought I would experience in my life and that day was so surreal for me. Whenever I go in public, I feel like I’m super alert and, not necessarily scared that something bad will happen, but the thought that something could so easily go down was something hard to tackle with,” said Nanda to AsAmNews. 

Mia Livas Porter, who is a survivor of gun violence and the former Candidate for the CA Assembly for AD52, said she was first exposed to gun violence when her brother Junior died by gun suicide over 30 years ago. 

She said she “never would have imagined” being a survivor herself until she realized in 2018 when she worked with Moms Demand Action, a grassroots movement fighting against gun violence. Livas Porter said she only felt like she “truly started to heal” when she began sharing his story and becoming involved in gun violence prevention advocacy. 

“It is going to take every single one of us to do our part to address this epidemic. We need to encourage safe gun ownership – by educating those we love about the tools out there that can curb gun violence. It’s taking away the shame of talking about guns and safe storage (like BeSmart for Kids), using Gun Violence Restraining Orders as a tool to temporarily take guns away from anyone who is at risk of hurting themselves or anyone else, sharing 988 as a tool to help anyone struggling with suicidal ideations,” said Livas Porter in an email to AsAmNews.  

Coming from a “Filipino, fierce Catholic family,” Livas Porter said she knows about her culture of suicide being associated with shame, noting that they would normalize not talking about his passing. She said, however, that people are beginning to recognize that mental health is equally as important as physical health. 

While noting that every nation deals with mental illness, Livas Porter said gun violence in the U.S. is a “uniquely American crisis” that is possible due to the country’s relaxed regulations of accessing guns.

 “We need to change the culture around guns in this country. We need to promote responsible gun ownership. We don’t have to live like this. … Gun violence can impact every one of us – regardless of zip code, religion, age, who you love, how much money is in your bank account. It impacts us in our schools, in our churches, in movie theaters and concert venues, grocery stores, and our places of work. We must –  and CAN – do better and take action. Everyone in America has a right to live free from the fear of gun violence,” said Livas Porter in an email to AsAmNews.

AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Follow us on FacebookX, InstagramTikTok and YouTube. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts to produce diverse content about the AAPI communities. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.


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