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America’s gun culture is empowering people to shoot others, even when they’re not a threat

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Insider, April 2023

They each made simple mistakes. But for the Black teen who rang the wrong doorbell, the young woman who pulled into the wrong driveway, and the cheerleader who got into the wrong car, those mistakes became life-threatening, and in one case, deadly. A series of wrong-place shootings have reignited debate about the prevalence of gun violence, “stand your ground” laws, and America’s firearms culture.

On April 13, an elderly homeowner in Kansas City, Missouri, shot Ralph Yarl, a Black teenager, in the head after Yarl rang the home’s doorbell. Just days later, 20-year-old Kaylin Gillis was fatally shot by a homeowner after the car she was riding in pulled into the wrong driveway in a rural part of New York. And this week, two cheerleaders were shot after one of them mistakenly climbed into the wrong car in a Texas parking lot. The shocking incidents are a larger symptom of a distinctly American culture that empowers people to open fire, even when there’s no real threat, gun violence experts say.

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