Sunday, 01 Oct 2023

Fearful and trigger-happy: flooded with guns and paranoia, the US reels from shootings

Fearful and trigger-happy: flooded with guns and paranoia, the US reels from shootings


Fearful and trigger-happy: flooded with guns and paranoia, the US reels from shootings

Waldes Thomas and Diamond Darville were driving for the grocery delivery service Instacart near Miami in mid-April when they drove the order up to the wrong address.

Thomas, 19, and Darville, 18, reportedly told authorities they were backing away from the home when the owner emerged with his son, grabbed on to the driver's window and fired a gun three times at their car. Antonio Caccavale, who didn't hit anyone, later reportedly claimed to police who investigated the encounter that he shot because he feared for his and his son's lives as Thomas and Darville's car ran over his foot and struck a boulder.

Eventually, police concluded everyone - including Caccavale - acted "justifiably based on the circumstances they perceived", leading to no arrests.

It remains to be seen whether the police's interpretation of the case is the final word on the matter. A local prosecutor told ABC News in a statement that he would evaluate whether Caccavale should be charged, adding that "the safety of the entire Instacart community is incredibly important" to his office.

Nonetheless, that case, along with a spate of recent shootings across the country which victimized Americans who approached property owners by mistake or for an otherwise innocent reason, did not only vividly illustrate how the US is flooded with guns. It all also showed how people who are made paranoid by the nation's bitter political climate believe they can use guns with impunity thanks to firearms laws and self-defense statutes that in many states are remarkably permissive, according to experts who spoke with the Guardian this week.

A Harvard University study from 2016 found "there is no good evidence" that using a firearm in purported self-defense reduces the likelihood of injury.

The study's author, David Hemenway, found some evidence that having a gun for such a purpose may reduce the likelihood of property loss. "But the evidence is equally compelling that having another weapon, such as [pepper spray] or a baseball bat, will also reduce the likelihood of property loss," Hemenway has said.

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