A spate of recent shootings serve as a depressing reminder that accidentally ringing the wrong doorbell, driving to an incorrect residence or mistakenly getting into the incorrect vehicle can be deadly.
In Kansas City, 16-year-old honors student Ralph Yarl mistakenly arrived at the wrong home while looking for his younger siblings. There he was shot and severely wounded by 84-year-old Andrew Lester, a chain of events that shocked residents and sent citizens and the country on edge.
Lester stated he was intimidated by the young teen’s size and height. For the record, Ralph Yarl is 5-foot-7, 150 pounds, hardly an imposing human being. It’s more likely Yarl’s Black skin was what intimidated the elder Lester.
Two days later, a similar tragedy occurred in Hebron, N.Y., when 65-year-old Kevin Monahan shot and killed a 20-year-old White woman, Kaylin Gillis, when she and her friends mistakenly drove up the driveway of Monahan’s house. Kevin Monahan is still unrepentant. About the only significant news we have heard regarding the sexagenarian is he was prone to getting into verbal altercations and routinely threaten his neighbors with physical violence.
That was followed by an incident in central Texas, where a high school cheerleader and her friends were shot at after mistakenly getting into the car of Pedro Tello Rodriguez Jr. One of the teens, Payton Washington, is recuperating from life-threatening injuries.
There’s also 24-year-old Robert Louis Singletary of Hillsborough County, NC, who was apprehended by Florida authorities after allegedly shooting at his neighbors after their daughter wandered into his yard. The little girl was shot in her lower jaw, but thankfully her injuries were non-life threatening.
While not as much information has been dispensed about Rodriguez and Singletary, it does not take the IQ of a rocket scientist to understand that both men are deeply emotionally disturbed individuals. It’s not uncommon for someone to visit the wrong house or ring the doorbell of the wrong neighbor. How many of you have tried to unlock a car that isn’t yours? You should consider yourselves lucky you weren’t the victim of some deliriously paranoid individual with a gun.
Most people who own firearms are responsible gun owners. But there is a small but dangerous segment bereft of any reasonable level of emotional discipline and should be forfeited the option of owning them. Those are the people who harbor several deficits of control impulse. They are a danger to you, me, your neighbors, your loved ones children, and others. They are literal menaces to society.
By carelessly and recklessly endorsing so-called stand-your-ground laws, Republicans have engineered a misperception that puts the lives of innocent people in jeopardy. Thankfully, in more than two-thirds of the states that have adopted such laws, shooters must be able to establish that their fear was reasonable. Paranoia, suspicion or racial bias is not a justifiable defense. I guess that’s something.
My late father was a gun enthusiast. He had a gun collection in our home that was locked out of the safety of us children. He was a hunter, and while he was no right-wing conservative, he did believe and support the 2nd Amendment. However, he (like most reasonable people) believed that background checks for gun purchases should be required. Psychological evaluations and other precautions should be necessary before any human is allowed access to any sort of weapon.
It’s encouraging that all four men are being charged, but these tragic incidents will continue until more Americans demand tougher gun laws from lawmakers who are too cowardly in taking on the National Rifle Association and powerful gun lobbyists.
Elwood Watson is a professor of history, Black studies, and gender and sexuality studies. He is also an author and public speaker.