Crime

Experts: Rash shootings are a reflection of fear and distrust

Experts who study gun violence say more shootings are happening partly because society is teaching people to be afraid and mistrust each other.

Experts: Rash shootings are a reflection of fear and distrust
Charlie Riedel / AP
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They are wrong turns and simple misunderstandings that turn violent and deadly, changing lives forever.

"My daughter was an honor student. She had hopes and dreams of becoming a marine biologist or veterinarian,” said Andrew Gillis, choking back tears at a press conference.

His daughter, 20-year-old Kaylin Gillis, was shot dead after turning down the wrong driveway in New York. 

In Texas, two cheerleaders were wounded by gunfire in a case of mistaken identity.

“It’s not a good sign of where we’re headed. It’s incredibly unbelievable,” said Lynne Shearer, owner of Woodlands Elite Cheer, where the cheerleaders are members.

And in Kansas City, a Black teenager named Ralph Yarl walked up to a house to pick up his brothers. But he had the wrong address, and when he approached the door, he was shot twice

“It's so hard to believe that this amount of hate lives in people," his aunt Faith Spoonmore said in a video posted on social media. 

20-year-old woman fatally shot after car pulls into wrong driveway
20-year-old woman fatally shot after car pulls into wrong driveway

20-year-old woman fatally shot after car pulls into wrong driveway

Kaylin Gillis died after being shot Saturday night in Hebron, New York.

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Different people, hundreds of miles apart, are all connected by the same thread of unprovoked gun violence. 

Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat representing Connecticut, took to the Senate floor to address the incidents.  

"We are becoming a heavily armed nation so fearful, and angry, and hair-trigger anxious that gun murders are now just the way in which we work out our frustrations," Murphy said.

Experts who study gun violence say shootings like these are happening partly because society — through misleading stories on TV, social media, politicians, and even advertisements for guns — is teaching people to be afraid and mistrust each other and the government, even when crime is going down. 

“People are really bombarded with images and information that tells them that they are living in a very dangerous world,” said Daniel Webster, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions. 

Guns are easy to get, and more than half of U.S. states don’t require a permit to carry a concealed firearm. And the so-called "Stand Your Ground" laws give people more rights to defend themselves may be leading more people to shoot first and ask questions later.

Webster says the message people are getting is resonating. 

"You're the only one who can protect yourself. And the way to protect yourself is with a loaded gun at the ready," he said.