Shooting Culture

[Content Note: Guns; death.]

The problem isn't "gun culture," whatever that even means anymore. The problem is that we live in a shooting culture, in which both cultural narratives and laws are designed to support shooting other human beings as a first response to any perceived danger:
A 26-year-old San Francisco man was shot to death early Saturday when he went to a unit on the wrong floor of his apartment building after returning home from a night out.

Stephen Guillermo had been out drinking with friends, his family said, and apparently pressed the wrong floor number on the elevator of the building in the 900 block of Mission Street in the South of Market area. He got off on the third floor instead of the fifth floor, where he lived with his brother and sister, and went to the unit in the same location in the building as his home two stories above.

Guillermo was shot at 1:40 a.m. inside the third floor unit of a 68-year-old man, Amisi Sudi Kachepa, who later surrendered to police and was arrested in the shooting.

Kachepa reportedly told people in the building that he blamed Guillermo for breaking the knob on the door of his unit. The knob on the door was missing Saturday.

..."It just doesn't fit," said his sister, Sharrmaine Guillermo, adding that her brother did not become hostile when he drank, and she cannot figure out how he would even start some sort of confrontation. "Stephen is not the kind of guy who would do that."

Stephen would talk through any confrontation and would not be combative. "We're all confused, we just can't understand how it could have happened," she added.
Here's the thing: Even if Guillermo had been "aggressive," which I'll note is a very subjective designation of behavior, he was shot as a first response. It wasn't as though the resident of the wrong flat moved into another room, behind another locked door, and phoned police, and waited to see if his life was really in danger. He simply shot the person who came to the wrong door and tried to get in.

I understand how that would be scary. I really do. But, frankly, I also think that we are obliged to experience some fear, before we pull out a gun and end another human being's life. At least enough fear to determine whether that fear is even warranted.

But that is not the culture in which we live. The culture in which we live says that you have the right to kill someone, if you have a reasonable (another subjective term) justification for your fear.

[Related Reading: On Sitting with Fear.]

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