NEW YORK — Everytown for Gun Safety, and its grassroots networks, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, released the following statement today to mark the beginning of Asian American and Pacific Islander (API) Heritage Month. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, hate crimes and violence targeting the API community have surged. As the pandemic has continued to evolve and reports of attacks on Asian Americans have continued into 2022, the safety and wellbeing of the API community, particularly API women, remains a critical issue. According to the State of Safety Survey, 71% of AANHPI women report feeling anxious or stressed due to fear of discrimination, harassment, or violence, and 40% report feeling more unsafe today as compared to start of COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we begin to approach what feels like normalcy, the first few months of 2022 have served as a cruel reminder that for many Asian Americans, fear and uncertainty is part of our new normal,” said Becky George, Senior Advisor for Movement Building at Everytown for Gun Safety. “We refuse to let hate-motivated violence shape our way of life. As we celebrate the resilience, beauty, and strength of the API community this May, we renew our calls on local, state, and federal leaders to take meaningful action to disarm hate and save lives.”
“Asian American women are tired of our visibility being tied to breaking news and headlines of hate-motivated violence,” said Jeannie She, a gun violence survivor and member of the Students Demand Action National Advisory Board. “We have collectively endured generations at the crossroads of racism, misogyny, and xenophobia — all while being expected to stay quiet. But we will not be silenced. We will continue to make our voices heard until leaders at every level take decisive action to keep our communities safe.”
Hate-motivated violence is not the only form of gun violence impacting the API community. Data from the CDC shows that young Asians and Pacific Islanders have the fastest-growing firearm suicide rate of any racial/ethnic group, increasing 168% from 2011 to 2020. A survey from the CDC spanning the first half of 2021 found that nearly 16% of Asian and 12% of Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander high school students seriously considered suicide in the past year. And research from The Trevor Project found that in 2020, 40% of API LGBTQ+ youth ages 13 to 24 seriously contemplated suicide.
As we celebrate API Heritage Month, we recognize the impact of gun violence and hate-motivated violence on the API community and renew our call on policymakers at every level to prioritize ending our nation’s gun violence epidemic and taking action on hate motivated violence.