Marksman who is Asian American says gun control laws are racist, puts Asians at risk

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An expert marksman who is Asian American told a Senate panel Tuesday that Democrats’ proposed gun control laws are racist and represent a threat to the Asian community.

Chris Cheng, who won the History Channel’s Top Shot contest, said the uptick in hate crimes targeting Asian Americans has forced them into gun stores to protect themselves.

As Mr. Cheng sees it, Democrats’ proposed extended background checks pose an unnecessary risk to Asians, who have been increasingly targeted for hate-filled attacks.

“We need to defend ourselves. Not three days or 20 days from now, but today. Right now,” Mr. Cheng said in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Attacks on Asian Americans spiked across the country last year, jumping 150 percent over 2019 numbers, according to data from the California State University’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.

Asian American advocacy groups say that study underestimates the growing threat to their community. Stop Asian American and Pacific Islander Hate said there were more than 3,800 hate incidents targeting Asians last year.

The threats have been linked to scapegoating Asians for the coronavirus, which originated in China.

Mr. Cheng told lawmakers that previous gun control bills, including an 1882 law that prohibited Chinese people from owning firearms, have racist roots.

“What’s worse than systemic, racist gun control policies? Poorly thought-out gun control policies that will negatively impact Americans of all works of life — all races, genders and sexual orientations,” he said.

Mr. Cheng compared measures proposed by the Democrats with the 1882 law, saying they were an “unconstitutional denial of civil rights and civil liberties.”

House Democrats earlier this month passed legislation that would impose stricter background checks on all commercial gun sales. The bills would also give the FBI more time to conduct background checks, and close loopholes that enable a person to acquire a gun before the background check is complete.

The legislation will now head to a divided Senate, where it will face a heated debate. 

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