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Rittenhouse Acquitted: The Role of Guns

At the time of the publication of this article, the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse has been live-streamed. The case that held the attention of millions of Americans for the better part of two weeks, following its regular appearance across news outlets since the fateful day of 25 August 2020, has come to a dramatic close as the jury determined him Not Guilty on all counts. Now that the conclusion of the case is official, we have time to reflect on the different roles that firearms had to play with both what happened in the streets of Kenosha, as well as the legal and cultural aftermath.

While the attention given to this landmark case has drawn a spotlight on both the legal institutions and the impact of media on public opinion, the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse at the time hung on how the jury, and as a reflection, the nation, thought about gun ownership.

The Event

For days, the town of Kenosha Wisconsin, a sprawling city that sits up against Lake Michigan and spans the area between Milwaukee, WI, and Chicago, IL suffered from social unrest during the BLM riots of 2020. With a population just shy of 100,000 residents, who mostly commute to either metropolis, the bedroom community became the center of attention as both protests and riots targeted the city without of town support and participation.

Before the shooting, Kyle Rittenhouse traveled regularly between Kenosha and Antioch, Illinois, which was often described as a suburb of the sprawling Wisconsin city. While Chicago is known for its strict and questionably effective gun restrictions, the attitude is much different in Wisconsin, where according to the law, Kyle Rittenhouse would break no laws if he were publicly carrying a rifle at the age of 17.

On the night of August 25th, 2020, Kyle Rittenhouse was putting out fires started by arsonists and offering medical aid in Kenosha, where his father lived. By the end of the tenuous night, he defended his life with an AR-15, killing two and injuring one more.

The Long Year

Rittenhouse would eventually find himself jailed, being charged with 6 different crimes. While rumors traveled twice 'round the world as to what took place, he was first taken into custody, and later released on 2-million dollar bail.

Accused in the court of public opinion of varying degrees of vigilantism, he became a symbol for political actors, who villainized him on account of his race, presumed political affiliation, and choice of firearm, just to name a few. The fact that he used an AR-15 became fodder for arguing against the possession of so common a firearm.

More than a year later, he appeared in court as prosecutors on behalf of the State of Wisconsin brought their case before a jury of Kyle's peers.

The Trial

When Kyle Rittenhouse appeared in court, his defense presented a case that he was justified in his use of force by the right of self-defense. During the trial, the model, appearance, caliber, type of projectile, and mere possession of the firearm were levied against the now-18-year-old. Statements evoked laughter and outrage as the prosecutors compared Rittenhouse's firearm to ones used in video games, as well as implying that full metal jacket rounds were hand-chosen by Rittenhouse in order to injure multiple people with each shot.

The rifle used by Kyle Rittenhouse was inspected in case it could be proven as a Short Barreled Rifle or SBR, but with a barrel longer than 16 inches and an overall length greater than 26 inches, this attempt fell through to use this as part of the prosecution. At another point in the trial, the size of the rifle was compared to one of Rittenhouse's attackers as being bigger, and thus more dangerous than a .40 caliber pointed at his own head.

Kyle Rittenhouse Dismissed Cover

Just before closing statements, Judge Schroeder dismissed the charge of illegal possession of the firearm, determining that Kyle Rittenhouse was exempt on account of his age. As a result, each remaining charge relied on whether or not Rittenhouse was justified in acting in self-defense. The prosecution then argued that, by bringing a firearm to Kenosha, this negated Rittenhouse's rite to self-defense, while also suggesting that Rittenhouse provoked the conflict by pointing his firearm at another person.

The Verdict

Two firearms-related factors became cornerstones in either convicting or acquitting Kyle Rittenhouse. If the prosecution could convince the jury that Kyle provoked the conflict by pointing his AR-15 as an act of aggression, or more sinisterly, if merely possessing it could negate his right to self-defense, a guilty verdict could have been achieved. Notably, this line of reasoning did not make exceptions for concealed firearms, and disregarded Rittenhouse's constitutional right as well.

The implication of both of these factors would ripple across gun owners. On the one hand, the right to self-defense was on trial, on the other hand, so was the Second Amendment.

Both of these reflect on how we think about firearms. So far, the Kenosha Jury concluded that people have the right to bear arms, and to use them for self-defense. While each charge that was brought against Kyle Rittenhouse included a different person, one of the common factors considered, and in doing so, bound them together, was him carrying a popular firearm.

The conclusion of the Jury is a great victory for the Second Amendment.

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5 responses to “Rittenhouse Acquitted: The Role of Guns”

  1. william couch says:

    The 2nd amendment won…

  2. Old Lefty says:

    He still has the problem of the straw purchase which is a federal offense and due to the feds stepping in on civil rights cases where the defendants were acquitted by state juries, the feds stepped in and convicted. The first case that comes to mind is the prosecution of the police officers involved in the Rodney King incident who were acquitted by California juries but were indicted and convicted of interfering with Rodney King’s civil rights.

    Although like many gun crimes, straw purchases are rarely prosecuted, the Deputy Attorney General for the Wisconsin area may chose to make an exception in Mr Rittenhouse’s case.

    As an aside, It is my understanding that the straw purchaser in the shooting in San Bernardino, CA where all the victims were enjoying a Christmas party and not participating in rioting and looting, received a severe sentence of eight months probation. Wow! That should certainly deter her from a further career in crime.

  3. Loydl says:

    I am very happy that Kile Rittenhouse was aquilted on all charges.Kile was with in his rights , he used his 2nd Amnd. rights granted to use a fiream in defense of life.
    that is the way it is used.

  4. Ben says:

    Why isn’t anyone talking about fact that Rittenhouse’s gun did not have sights on it? His gun “in evidence” that the prosecutor pointed at the jury did not have sights? Anyone know?

  5. Jim Pickens says:

    I’m sure the media, ANTIFA, BLM, the Rainbow Push Coalition and their Hollywood stooges will hound him relentlessly just like they did with George Zimmerman and Bernard Goetz.

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