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Gun Violence and the Rise of “Accidental” Shootings in the U.S.

How has the “stand your ground” law tainted people’s view of what constitutes as a dangerous situation?

Image: Grassinger/Shutterstock

A mass shooting occurred in an Allen, Texas outlet mall today, resulting in the death of eight people. This is the 132nd mass shooting that the U.S. has experienced so far in 2023, not even halfway into the year.

To say gun violence is common here in the U.S. would be downplaying the severity of the situation at hand. Not only has the U.S. experienced a significant amount of mass shootings this year, but also “justified,” or accidental shootings.

What is the “Stand Your Ground” law?

The “stand your ground” law is enforced in a handful of U.S. states, and it basically says that people have the right to use force-even deadly force- if you think you are in danger in any way. This is problematic because there is a blurred line for what is deemed actual danger, and if it fosters a “shoot first, ask questions later” mentality. Florida was the first to enact the law in 2005, and now a total of 35 states have the law.

On the contrast, some states have a “duty to retreat” law, which is in the case where a person that feels threatened, they must do everything in their power to avoid conflict. Only 15 states have this law.

To make things better, two republican lawmakers from Florida and Oklahoma introduced a national “stand your ground” bill, allowing everyone in the U.S. to use deadly force if they are presented with a dangerous situation.

Instacart driver shot at after pulling into the wrong driveway

More recently, there was an instance where two teens delivering for Instacart were shot at for mistakenly pulled into the wrong driveway. Florida homeowner, 43-year-old Antonio Caccavale, attempted to protect his family after he heard his son call for help, according to police.

The couple delivering the groceries, Waldes Davis and Diamond D’arville, told police they were blocked in, and trying to tell Caccavale that they were just from Instacart. They were apparently blocked in, and couldn’t back up freely. They managed to drive away, but not without a total of three bullet holes in their car.

Caccavale told police that they were running into things on the property and police ended up deeming both parties “justified,” on the account of the “stand your ground” law.

84-year-old charged with shooting a black teenager who went to the wrong house

Ralph Yarl, 16-years-old, was critically injured after being shot at twice in Kansas City, MO. Yarl was sent to pick up his younger brother at a friends house when he accidentally went to the wrong address, resulting in the injuries.

Homeowner Andrew D. Lester was taken into custody following the incident, and is being charged for assault in the first degree. The Mayor of Missouri said in a tweet that this was the “first step towards justice” for Ralph Yarl, and said in an interview that the law should not apply to someone simply ringing a doorbell.

The statement says that there was a “racial component” to the shooting, and that he will not get away with claiming the “stand your ground” law.

20-year-old woman fatally shot after pulling into the wrong driveway

Kaylin Gillis was shot and killed after accidentally pulling into the wrong driveway while searching for her friends house in Upstate New York.

Her boyfriend, Blake Walsh, was driving when they made the wrong turn, and said in a phone interview with NBC that they pulled out the moment they realized. Rural upstate does not have great cell service, so finding their friends was difficult. He described the area as “easy to get lost in.”

Kevin Monahan, 65-years-old, has been charged with second degree murder. New York is one of the 15 states that adhere to the “duty to retreat” law.

Texas cheerleader shot after getting into the wrong car at a supermarket

18-year-old Payton Washington was shot in the leg after her and her friends accidentally got into the wrong car at supermarket chain H-E-B.

The man responsible, Pedro Tello Rodriguez Jr., is known by the police due to previous encounters with the law. One of the cheerleaders involved told police that they were carpooling, and when she got out of her friends car to get into he rown, she saw Rodriguez in the passenger seat. She then went back to her friends car, and when they rolled down the window to apologize, he began to open fire on the teens.

Rodriguez is being charged with third-degree felony of deadly conduct. Washington is currently doing better, and was able to attend her school prom.

Is there an end in sight?

Everyday, Americans hear about yet another mass shootings, and lawmakers continue to send thoughts and prayers without formulating an actual solution. People think they can hide behind the “stand your ground” law to be violent, and in some cases, racist. The U.S. must reevaluate gun control in order for there to be an actual change, and refrain from tweets offering thoughts and prayers.

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I am a junior journalism major Chinese minor at Texas Christian University. I have worked in student media since beginning my time at TCU and have since found my passion to be multimedia storytelling. I enjoy conducting extensive research for stories to make them as well-rounded as possible.

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