OAKLAND (KPIX) – After an alarming increase of violent assaults and killings, more Asian Americans are actively seeking out ways to protect themselves and their loved ones.

There is growing interest in learning how to fight back to reduce the chances of becoming a victim.

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Huy Ha, a martial arts instructor in Oakland, said he’s never been busier teaching free classes to the community. The Oakland resident is also a gun owner and moderator for the private Facebook group, “Asian American Fun Owners of California.” He said its membership recently grew past 2,000.

“For me to pull out my firearm, and defend myself, I really, really, really pray that that day doesn’t come, but if that day does come, I know that I will be ready,” said Ha.

According to a survey by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, last year gun retailers estimated a nearly 43 percent increase in sales to Asian customers in the first half of 2020. By comparison, it found that sales to white customers grew more than 50 percent, and 58 percent to black customers.

“For me to pull out my firearm, and defend myself, I really, really, really pray that that day doesn’t come, but if that day does come, I know that I will be ready,” said Ha.

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Community groups are also handing out free alarms, whistles, or air horns to use in the face of assailants.

Others are doing the work by walking the streets.

A group of off-duty firefighters patrolled the streets of Chinatown for the first time Tuesday with the help of San Francisco police.

“What we hope to do is to have a presence, because it will discourage anyone from thinking of doing something,” said John Choy with the Asian Firefighters Association.

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Ha added that the best advice everyone could use is to stay off our cell phones while in public to avoid distractions. Also, people should always scan the street and their surroundings so they maximize situational awareness.