Opinion | The ‘Wrong House’ Shootings: A Culture of Fear

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To the Editor:

Re “Man Who Shot Teen on Porch Faces Charges” (front page, April 18) and “Details Emerge in Deadly New York Shooting of Woman in Wrong Driveway” (news article, April 19):

These two stories involve innocent people shot, one fatally, for mistakenly showing up at the wrong house. One, a Black teenager in Missouri, Ralph Yarl, was shot through a glass door; the other, a 20-year-old white woman in upstate New York, Kaylin Gillis, was hit through her car as she drove away.

Both are victims of a culture of fear and paranoia, created and fed by right-wing media, where threats lurk around every corner and ordinary Americans are made to feel that they need a loaded gun nearby — at home, in their vehicles, at restaurants and movie theaters, etc. — for “protection.”

The results of this mind-set, combined with our easy access to guns, are as inevitable as they are tragic.

Guns, in the aggregate, do not equal “protection.” Until more of us can see that, I’m afraid that nothing will change.

Mark Remy
Portland, Ore.

To the Editor:

As a retired visiting nurse who rang many a wrong doorbell and drove up many a wrong driveway in search of the patients I needed to visit (operating for most of my career without the benefit of a cellphone or GPS), I often relied upon the kindness of strangers, who unfailingly guided me toward my intended destination.

It never occurred to me that I could be shot. An occasional frightening dog, perhaps, but never gunfire.

I cannot imagine the stress that my colleagues in the field must feel these days.

Lois L. Foley
Webster, Mass.

To the Editor:

Last spring, I was traveling with my Irish friend in rural Ireland. We were on a road trip and could not find a waterfall we were looking for. My friend saw a house in the distance and said, “Hold on, I’m going to stop and ask for directions.”

I was concerned and surprised that she didn’t hesitate to walk up a long driveway, ring the doorbell and ask a stranger for directions. Ten minutes later my friend was still talking to the man who answered the door. As we drove off, he waved to us.

I explained my response to my friend, and she looked at me and said, “Denise, we don’t have guns here.”

Denise Garone
San Francisco

To the Editor:

Each time innocents are shot because they knocked on the wrong door or drove up the wrong driveway, the press makes the same mistake. It continually focuses on gun excesses due to legislative failures or the personality of the shooters, and it fails to point the finger of blame in the direction of the Supreme Court — the institution that has singular responsibility for America’s destructive gun culture.

The press rarely reminds us that the court’s Second Amendment decisions have needlessly granted guns a holy status — decisions that the founding fathers could never have imagined.

The democratic process was genuinely capable of effective regulation of guns until the Supreme Court decided the cases like Heller v. District of Columbia that put an end to meaningful gun reform.

We Americans need the press to keep reminding us of the court’s destructive role. Only when all Americans fully grasp this will we act to stop America’s gun carnage by increasing public pressure on the court to get out of the way of common-sense gun reform.

David Goldberger
Silver Spring, Md.
The writer is professor emeritus at Moritz College of Law of the Ohio State University.

To the Editor:

Re “Slowly, Remarkably Healing, a Year After Uvalde” (front page, April 17):

Everyone should read this — from the first dreadful paragraph to the last — and then try to defend the legality of AR-15s.

Ellen Schaffer
Palm Coast, Fla.

To the Editor:

Re “Shooting at 16th Birthday Party Leaves at Least 4 Dead in Alabama” (news article, April 17):

After four young people died and more than 30 were injured, Michael Taylor, a coach at the high school many of the victims attended, is reported as saying he was trying to figure out what to say to the students who would return to class less than 48 hours later.

It would be more appropriate for coaches, teachers and administrators to listen to what those students have to say to the adults in this country who allow these massacres to continue.

Ann J. Kirschner

To the Editor:

Here in the United Kingdom we have just learned of another atrocity, this time in Alabama. When, oh when, will the mothers of America wake up and smell the coffee, stand up to the gun lobby and insist that the gun laws be changed? Until such weaponry is taken out of general ownership, these sort killings will continue unabated, and parents will continue to bury their untimely dead.

For a so-called modern society that has put men into space, you persist in living in the past with your preoccupation with weapons. Arms manufacturers continue to laugh all the way to the bank while you bury your fellow Americans. Wake up, withdraw the right to bear arms and live a safer life.

You have the power to change the law if you put your mind to it. You have the solution — use it, or stop complaining.

Michael Frost
Romford, England

Abusive Chefs

To the Editor:

Re “Top Boston Restaurateur Is Accused of Workplace Abuse” (news article, April 21):

The story about Barbara Lynch’s harassing behavior in her kitchen is not news in the restaurant industry, except that she is one of the rare women to make it to the top in this hard-driving, competitive industry.

I have a son, a chef, who once worked on the line in a James Beard award-winning restaurant in Boston. He tells the story of asking to take a bathroom break, and the chef screamed, “Go to the bathroom on your day off!”

The stress in this industry is unrelenting. Every meal must be delicious, every plate a work of art. But that is no excuse for abusive behavior.

I hope that Barbara Lynch, a trailblazer in so many ways, gets the help she needs and acknowledges and apologizes for her behavior.

Thankfully, the current labor shortage is empowering employees and forcing chefs to conform their behavior to acceptable norms.

Mary Ann Lynch
Cape Elizabeth, Maine
The writer is not related to Barbara Lynch.

Clothes as an Expression of Freedom

To the Editor:

Re “The Sartorial Side to Freedom,” by Charles M. Blow (column, April 20):

Thank you to Mr. Blow for his column about how personal style is, for him, an expression of freedom. There is nothing more intriguing to me than seeing a spiffy person attired in their own personal wearable art, making their appearance an act of self-expression, liberation or rebellion.

Style can say to the world, “I have the power to lift myself up,” “I create my own reality” or “Beauty is very important to me.” It can put positive energy into an otherwise gray day or dismal situation.

Style is creative and unique to the individual. As a fashion student, I want the clothes I design to help others celebrate life through style. And I want to be the old woman in colorful baubles, bright tights and a turban!

Shelagh Little
Alameda, Calif.

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