A Need For Change: Can Making an Innocent Mistake Result in Being Shot?

Protestors speaking out for gun reform.
Protestors speaking out for gun reform.
Photo by Creative Commons

Imagine pulling into the wrong driveway, ringing the wrong doorbell, or mistakenly opening the wrong car door in a parking lot, and it results in you getting shot; that is the America that we live in today. These are innocent mistakes most people have made or will make at one point in their life. However, with the gun policies that many states have in place and lack of restrictions, a minor mistake could result in gun related violence.

Within the first five months of the year of 2023, there have been 184 mass shootings and 578 teens and children have been killed due to gun violence. Although these numbers show the amount of deaths guns have caused, our nation continues to not put more restrictions on the usage of armed weapons. 

An article from the Washington Post, written in 2018, stated, “There are more than 393 million civilian-owned firearms in the United States, or enough for every man, woman and child to own one and still have 67 million guns left over.” Not coincidentally, the U.S. has continuously had one of the highest deaths due to gun violence, whether it was intentional or unintentional shootings, or self harm. As of April of 2023, 25 states have passed gun laws allowing gun owners to conceal carry and open carry their guns in public without a permit. Even with the rise in deaths due to gun violence, policy makers in states have continued to fail to put restrictions on carrying guns in public which has greatly contributed to the rise in shootings. Former Police Officer and current Campus Safety Manager, Norm Sydnor, said, “Carrying and conceal doesn’t give you the right to shoot somebody, just because they stepped on your foot or cut you off in traffic.”

Kaylin Gillis, a 20-year old woman, was a passenger in the car when her friend pulled into the wrong driveway—she was shot twice and killed. Payton Washington and Heather Roth, two high school girls in Texas, were in a supermarket parking lot when Heather Roth got into the wrong vehicle—their car was shot at five  times and Payton was shot in the leg and back. Ralph Yarl, a 16-year old boy, went to the wrong home to pick up his younger siblings—he was shot in the head and arm. 

These incidents of people being at the wrong place are sparking fear amongst the American public. Madison Rosen 25’ said, “ I fear going to a parade, that should be ingrained in my mind as a happy childhood memory, but has now become the reminder that gun violence has and will touch the lives of so many in this country.”

Specific laws such as the “castle doctrine” law and laws that include “stand your ground” ideas have stated that force, including deadly force, can be used in specific circumstances such as home invasions and self defense. In some cases, these laws have been misinterpreted and have justified the use of gun violence and have allowed for the defendant to be discharged from facing all consequences. People living in America today should not be fearful of being shot or killed for making a minor mistake that should be handled without the use of guns. This should serve as a wake up call for policy makers to better protect their country. Rosen said “So, in short, I fear the atmosphere that lawmakers in the United States refuse to change every single day.”

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Emma Swanson, Managing Editor of Social Justice
Mimi Sexton, Managing Editor of Features and Social Media

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