SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - In a city that no longer has any gun stores, one grassroots San Francisco neighborhood group says Asian-Americans in the city should consider arming themselves for protection.
"It's the right thing for people who have been so scared and helpless," said Ellen Lee Zhou, a member of the San Francisco Coalition for Good Neighborhoods. She was recently noted as being an underdog candidate in the San Francisco mayoral race. She's also a gun owner.
"I have not seen such outrageous crime that is targeting Asian people over and over," she said.
Those crimes include a man beating and robbing a longtime-business owner in Chinatown last month.
Even more disturbing is the brutal kidnapping and rape of a 74-year-old Asian-American woman who was held captive for hours.
"If Asians [are] feeling vulnerable and targeted for crime, they should get up and stand up for the right to own a gun and practice and know how to shoot to protect their own property," said Zhou.
San Francisco law prohibits people from carrying guns on the street, but the organization says Asian Americans need to protect themselves in their homes.
The group is encouraging their members to take gun safety and training classes.
"It's not normal for our culture to carry guns. The reason why it's brought so much attention to the community lately is that this isn't normal for us to advocate to do self-defense," said Wendy Wong, who is also a coalition member.
But many other Asian organizations don't agree that guns are the answer to stopping violence in their community.
"America has too many guns. And there's a lot of gun violence already," said Marlene Tran of the Visitacion Valley Asian Alliance.
San Francisco Supervisor Gordon Mar, who represents the heavily Asian Sunset District, said in a statement that expanded police foot patrols and more security cameras are a better answer than guns.
"Bringing more guns into our homes and communities escalates the risk for injury and death for victims of crime, children in households with guns, and innocent bystanders."
The gun training classes are expected to take place next month in Alameda County. The neighborhood group said a lot of people have expressed interest in going.