How do we begin to unpack the sheer caucasity of arguing that the little vigilante and darling of the far-right, Kyle Rittenhouse—who is charged with fatally shooting two men and injuring another—was legally allowed to carry an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle to a protest in Wisconsin last year because he has a certificate to hunt. Of course, the next obvious question is if that’s the case … what exactly was Rittenhouse hunting?
Under Wisconsin law, there are certain training and supervision requirements for anyone 16 years or younger in order to possess a gun for hunting. The law does not outline limits for people over 16.
Rittenhouse was 17 when he drove himself from his home in Antioch, Illinois, to Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Aug. 25, 2020. In his mind, he went to patrol the city and protect businesses during protests that followed the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot seven times by a white police officer, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.
“There appears to be an exception for 17-year-olds,” defense attorney Corey Chirafisi said according to The Chicago Tribune.
Prosecutors were outraged by the hunting defense and pointed to another Wisconsin law that clearly states that no one under 18 may possess a dangerous weapon. The crime of carrying a gun under 18 is a misdemeanor charge that comes with nine months of jail time and a $10,000 fine.
“They can submit evidence that the defendant had a certificate to hunt and he was engaged in legal hunting on the streets of Kenosha that night,” Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger said. “I don’t think they really want to do that.”
According to The New Yorker, Rittenhouse traveled to Kenosha after seeing a post calling for “Armed Citizens to Protect our Lives and Property,” and inviting “patriots” to meet at the Kenosha courthouse to defend the city from “evil thugs.” With a gun illegally purchased for him by a friend, he volunteered to guard a used car dealership.
Videos from the night of the shooting show that several protesters attempted to disarm Rittenhouse, who fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum, then Anthony Huber, and seconds later Gaige Grosskreutz, prosecutors said.
The hearing, just three weeks ahead of Rittenhouse’s scheduled Nov. 1 trial, also included testimony from Dr. John R. Black, a self-defense expert, who argued that Rittenhouse shot each man in order to protect himself and not allow his gun to be taken from him.
“I do believe they (Rittenhouse’s actions) were reasonably necessary,” Black said, according to the Tribune.
Black testified that videos show Rosenbaum chased Rittenhouse and attempted to grab his gun, Huber attacked Rittenhouse with a skateboard and also tried to wrestle the gun away from him, and Grosskreutz ran at him, holding a handgun.
“A citizen in that position, given those indicators, would it be reasonable for them to believe they were about to be assaulted?” Black said. “I would argue yes.”
So, now we’re all meant to think that Rittenhouse was the victim here? Well, he is considered a hero by some. The Proud Boys have rallied behind him. Trump himself has refused to decry his actions. Photos of Rittenhouse posing with Proud Boys and throwing white supremacist hand signs have flooded the internet. One of Rittenhouse’s former attorneys, Lin Wood, is a devout conservative and Trump supporter who once tweeted that “President Trump Won reelection by a landslide. Biden cheated.” His account is now suspended by Twitter. In all, Rittenhouse has raised $2 million for his defense, largely from conservative and alt-right organizations, Mother Jones reports.
As for the “hunting to get out of jail free card,” Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder denied the motion to drop Rittenhouse’s weapons possession charge, saying that state statutes were “unclear” and that he wanted to review the laws and could revisit the matter later.
Rittenhouse is charged with homicide, attempted homicide, and being a minor in possession of a firearm. He’s pleaded not guilty.
Published with permission of Daily Kos