A maintenance man from North Carolina came to fix the faults in the kitchen. A Georgia teenager was looking for his girlfriend’s apartment. A Texas cheerleader wanted to find her car in the parking lot after practice. Each of them accidentally went to the wrong address or opened the wrong door. Fire was opened on each of them. And although the motives for these actions varied, some experts say that it is increasingly due to the increased fear of crime and the accompanying increase in the number of gun owners. They also blame the representatives of the arms industry, who present “the front door in the suburbs as a fortified barrier against the brutal world.”
In recent days, the US has been talking about a few innocent mistakes that ended tragically – 16-year-old Ralph Yarl wanted to pick up two brothers from their friend’s house in Kansas City, but he got the address wrong. After knocking on another house, he was shot twice by its tenant.
A few days later, a 20-year-old woman who drove her car to the wrong house was shot dead by the owner of the property. The incident took place in the town of Hebron, New York. The 65-year-old suspect was arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder.
And then two cheerleaders in Texas were shot after one got into the wrong car in a darkened parking lot.
Suburban front door as “a fortified barrier against a violent world”
The mistakes that led to the tragedy in a nation “armed to the teeth” are written by the New York Times, which notes that there have been many such cases before, but they have attracted much less public attention. In July 2021, a Tennessee man was charged with threatening and firing a handgun after two telephone company employees mistakenly entered his property. Last June, a Virginia man was arrested after authorities said he shot and killed three lost teenage siblings who accidentally drove onto his property.
As the New York daily emphasizes, each of the incidents described above has its own story, and there were also different reasons why the perpetrators decided to reach for weapons. “But activists and researchers say they are due to a combination of several factors – increased fear of crime and the accompanying rise in gun ownership, increasingly extreme political messages about firearms, media scare and arms industry marketing campaigns that depict the door front lines in the suburbs as a fortified barrier against a brutal world.
Accurate figures are not available, but such shootings are relatively rare in a country where nearly 49,000 people are killed annually by guns. But gun control advocates say they are a stark illustration of how quickly Americans turn to guns – and how tragic the consequences can be.
Hammers looking for nails
“The arms lobby sells firearms as something you need to defend yourself,” said Jonathan Lowy, a lawyer and gun violence reduction campaigner who sued gun manufacturers on behalf of mass shooting victims and their families.
The Daily Report said national gun rights organizations remained “relatively silent” after the Kansas City incident, with many Republicans broadly supporting the prosecutor’s decision to press charges.
“The notion that crime, especially firearms, has increased is not a myth. National murder rates have increased by about a third since 2019, according to government data, even with a slight decline in fatal shootings over the past 18 months,” he cites the statistics. NYT”. The American daily writes that the number of certain property crimes that fell or remained stable during the pandemic COVID-19has increased again in recent months, which may be related to the increase inflation. Thefts and robberies in major cities increased by around 20 percent in the first half of 2022, after falling in the previous two years.
Gun purchases have surged during the pandemic and the unrest and protests following the killing of George Floyd. Nearly 20 percent of American households bought a gun between March 2020 and March 2022, and about five percent of Americans bought a gun for the first time, according to a survey conducted by one of the research centers at the University of Chicago. At the same time, states considered Republican, including Florida and Texas, liberalized gun laws.
“People get paranoid and worry too much”
“People get paranoid and overly worried. And then there’s an unannounced knock on their door,” says Jonathan Lowy, who is the founder of Global Action on Gun Violence, a gun violence control organization.
Byron Castillo, 51, knows what it’s like to be the one knocking on the door unannounced
On the morning of January 30, 2020, Castillo was sent to a second-floor apartment in High Point, North Carolina, to repair and repaint damage caused by a leak in the kitchen. He introduced himself as a maintenance man and knocked three times. The tenant responded by opening the door and shooting Castillo in the stomach without a word of warning.
He dragged himself to his truck and drove to the office, where he collapsed on the floor, waiting for an ambulance. He spent a month in the hospital and another five months of recuperation at home, trying to build strength in his legs and deal with chest pain after surgery.
Castillo said he later learned that he was supposed to be repairing a first-floor apartment.
The High Point Police Department said prosecutors declined to press charges. In a statement published in 2020 by local news outlets, the police said that “under unfortunate circumstances, Mr. Castillo mistakenly tried to get into the wrong apartment” and the man who shot him thought he was a burglar.
Castillo still can’t believe it. “I had brushes and rollers in my hand. How would I be a threat? Would I kill with a brush?” Castillo is surprised, quoted by the American daily.
More than three years later, Byron Castillo still pays his $30 weekly hospital bill and still feels tightness in his chest along the scar. He says that with every new assignment, he checks every room to make sure no one is waiting with a gun.
The use of weapons in self-defense and the “racial element”
Let’s go back to the case of 16-year-old African American Ralph Yarl who was shot. “I see racial elements in this case,” Kansas City Police Chief Stacey Graves said.
According to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which supports gun control, shootings where white people shot at African Americans were nearly three times more likely to be considered “justified” compared to those where white people were shot. people shot at other white people – evokes “NYT”.
“There are no reliable local or national statistics on firearm use in self-defense, and the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, which studies crime data, found that guns were actually more likely to be used for suicide, accidentally fired, stolen or used to threaten disputes. domestic than used to repel an attack from the outside,” the daily continues. At the same time, he points out that the National Rifle Association and other gun rights organizations have long questioned such assessments, citing research that shows a much higher use of guns for legitimate self-defense.
“Take a moment. Because this is someone’s child you’re going to kill.”
It was a March night in 2019, Atlanta. It was past midnight and 19-year-old Omarian Banks, tired from his McDonald’s shift, came to his girlfriend’s apartment complex, where every building looks basically the same. He accidentally walked to the wrong door and started knocking.
Banks tried to apologize for his mistake, but according to police and his girlfriend’s account, the tenant in the apartment, Darryl I. Bynes, said no, you’re in the right house. He then fatally shot the boy. Bynes, 32, is to be tried for murder this summer.
The deceased’s family says that Omarian hoped to one day work as an electrician alongside his father and younger brother.
– When will they learn? asks Lisa Johnson-Banks, the mother of the shot Omarian, helplessly. – I know people have a right to protect their homes. But think for a moment. Because it’s someone’s child that you’re going to take the life of – he adds.
Main photo source: ENEX