Examining racism and firearm-related risks among Asian Americans in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic

Elsevier, Preventive Medicine Reports, Volume 27, June 2022
Wu T.-Y., Hsieh H.-F., Chow C.M., Yang X., Resnicow K., Zimmerman M.

Firearm-related injury is a major public health concern in the U.S. Experience of racism and discrimination can increase the risk of minority group members engaging in or being victims of firearm-related violence. Given the increased racism endured by Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative to understand firearm-related behaviors in this population. The purpose of this study was to examine how Asian Americans’ racism and discrimination experiences were related to firearm-related behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cross-sectional data were collected between December 2020 and January 2021 from a national sample of 916 Asian Americans. Measures included demographics, firearm-related risks, and three measures of racism/discrimination experiences since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among individuals who purchased a gun since the start of the pandemic, 54.6% were first-time gun owners. Among household gun owners, 42.8% stored loaded guns and 47.1% stored guns unlocked. More than 38% of individual gun owners have carried a gun more frequently since the pandemic. After controlling for family firearm ownership and demographics, regression analyses showed that Asian Americans who experienced racial discrimination were more likely to purchase a gun and ammunition and intend to purchase more ammunition during the COVID-19 pandemic. AAs who perceived more cultural racism were more likely to purchase a gun. Individuals who reported higher anticipatory racism-related stress reported greater intent to purchase guns. Our findings suggest an urgent need to investigate further the compounded effects of racism, the COVID-19 pandemic, and firearm-related behaviors in this population.