An Al Jazeera short documentary released this week tells the story of a Chinese man living in a Chicago suburb, and how he came to be a fierce gun rights advocate and gun coach.
“Unless you can take away all the guns from criminals, I will not give up my guns,” said Jun Wang, a software engineer living in Evanston, a few miles north of Chicago, in an interview with Al Jazeera.
Wang was born and raised in China, where he played with toy guns and watched shows like Garrison’s Gorillas. Back then, he didn’t handle any real guns. But when he came to America in the mid-1990’s, he became concerned about his safety after hearing about violent crime, and incidents in which Asians are specifically targeted. Having little more than a kitchen knife for self defense, he decided to arm himself.
At first, his wife, Zhiling Lan, didn’t want him to buy any guns. But when he explained it was for their safety, she came around.
“In China, nobody has guns, and we (were) used to the environment (in which) nobody has a gun. Everyone will be safe,” Lan said. “But once you come to this country, you realize that this is not China.”
“I have two weapons always within easy reach,” says Wang in the beginning of the short documentary. “One is my shotgun. It’s always loaded. And the other one I usually take and give to Alan, because Alan knows how to use it. This is his rifle.”
Alan is Wang’s 13-year-old son. He’s been teaching his boy about gun use and safety for years, and Alan is proficient in the use of many kinds of guns. In the short doc, Alan loads his rifle with his eyes closed. Wang’s 7-year-old son, Aiden, isn’t allowed to touch the guns in the home quite yet, though in the documentary, Wang allows him to fire off a couple rounds at the range.
“They’re cool,” said 13-year-old Alan. “They’re deadly too I guess. It’s safe only if you know how to use it. If you don’t know how to use it, you probably shouldn’t be touching it, because you may accidentally blow someone’s hands off.”
Outside of his home, Wang is a licensed gun instructor. He teaches laws and safe-handling rules at small workshops, offering free advice to other Chinese people living in the Chicago area.
“I think I am the only Chinese coach in the Chicago area,” said Wang. “Now a lot of people are looking up at me. Make me a leader.”
Wang says he’s come a long way from the days of playing with toy guns in China, recognizing that firearms are tools “to protect yourself with.”
“Some of our friends ask me, ‘Why don’t you believe the world is peaceful? Why do you sometimes advocate people to have guns,’” said Wang at the end of the documentary. “I believe the world is peaceful, at least in the short term. I hope that we can have peace forever so my kids can enjoy it. But we have to get prepared. I want to be able to have them to grow up into adults and have a family themselves and enjoy the life.”