Chicago’s Chinese Gun

‘Unless you can take away all the guns from criminals, I will not give up my guns.’

“It’s loud, and the recoil is big.” Jun Wang clearly remembers the excitement and fear he felt when he first touched a real gun at a gun range in Des Plaines, a suburb of Chicago. To the man who grew up in China playing with toy guns and watching movies such as Garrison’s Gorillas, the gun was no longer a toy. “It is a tool and weapon to protect yourself with.”

Wang came to the US in the mid-1990s to further his studies in computer science, and went on to become a software engineer at Motorola. Back then, even he could hardly imagine that one day he would become a gun coach, advocating for gun rights and gun ownership among his fellow Chinese Americans.

As Wang left the company and started to work as an independent software engineer at his house in Evanston, Illinois, he became acutely aware of the scope of home invasions, armed robberies and gun violence incidents in the city of Chicago as well as the rest of the country, some specifically targeting Asians. The only weapon he could find at home to protect his family if someone broke into his house was a kitchen knife. This prompted him to think about buying firearms.

Wang’s wife Zhiling Lan disagreed with her husband when she first heard of his plan to buy guns, but eventually sided with him as he explained to her his concerns about safety.

Despite having some of the country’s strictest gun laws, Chicago has one of the highest numbers of killings and shootings in the US, partly owing to the widespread availability of guns. Wang vows that he will not give back his guns unless all the guns in the hands of criminals are also taken away.

“In China, nobody has guns, and we [were] used to the environment [in which] nobody has a gun, everyone will be safe,” Lan explained. “But once you come to this country, you realise that this is not China.”

Before getting his licence to be a gun coach, Wang had already started his teaching at home. His first student was his oldest son, 13-year-old Alan, who has now mastered the use of many kinds of pistols, rifles and shotguns. When Wang teaches Alan how to shoot, his younger son Aiden, 7, is allowed to observe and recite the safety rules along with his brother.

In addition to teaching basic laws and safe-handling rules to students who are interested in buying guns, Jun Wang also offers regular safety lectures and small workshops to Chinese living in the Chicago area, free of charge. He believes that the way to change the stereotypical view of Chinese Americans as easy targets in times of violence is to have more of them owning guns.

Filmmakers: Xiao Lyu & Yunfei Zhao

Editor: Andrew Phillips

Executive Producer: Yasir Khan