Rittenhouse ruling rekindles US polarizing gun debate
The acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse of murder on Friday opened another front in America’s long battle over gun rights: A teenager carrying an acceptable assault-style rifle are not?
Conservatives hailed Rittenhouse as a hero for exercising his right to self-defense when he shot dead two protesters and wounded a third, who he said attacked him last year. at a racial justice rally in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Gun control advocates warn the grand jury verdict could inspire a new wave of armed vigilance, after Rittenhouse traveled from his Illinois home to Kenosha in August 2020 following protests Protests erupted after the police shooting dead of a Black man, Jacob Blake.
Guns have long been a prominent political issue in the United States, where permissive legislation leads to some of the highest rates of civilian gun ownership in the world. Mass shootings, much rarer in other wealthy nations, have plagued the country for decades.
The decision by Rittenhouse, at age 17, to roam the streets of Kenosha with a weapon in the name of protecting private property from rioters has caused particular concern about how gun rights will How far is it extended?
Top officials with Giffords, the gun safety group, said: “As the tragic events of that night in August show, a 17-year-old man arming himself with an AR-15 makes no one safer. “. “Today’s sentencing sends a disturbing message that will encourage further vigilance towards violence and murder.”
Gun rights groups and Rittenhouse supporters celebrated the result as a big win.
Within minutes of the ruling, the National Rifle Association tweeted the Second Amendment language of the United States Constitution: “A well-managed militia, essential to the security of a free country, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
Brandon Lesco, who is standing outside the Kenosha courthouse holding a “Free Kyle!” signed, said the judgment was pointed.
“Someone needs to be there to protect the American towns that people try to burn. I respect that he was there, I respect that he carries a weapon, he uses it properly. , he used it legally. The jury agreed,” Lesco said.
The trial judge earlier this week dismissed a misdemeanor charge against Rittenhouse for illegally possessing the rifle he used in the shooting, citing unclear law.
‘MESSAGE NOT ACCEPTANCE’
Liberals have denounced Rittenhouse’s acquittal as another proof of a racially biased criminal justice system. Rittenhouse, like the people he shot, was white.
“That a young white male could travel across the states armed with an assault rifle and engage in armed confrontation that resulted in multiple deaths without incurring criminal responsibility, is the The bureau is all too familiar in a country where racism continues to alter the system,” said Margaret Huang, president and CEO of the Southern Poverty Law Center, in a statement.
Some legal experts have been careful to distinguish between the specific facts of Rittenhouse’s case and the broader message it might send.
According to Janine Geske, a former judge on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, prosecutors had to work hard to convince jurors that Rittenhouse had no fear for his life at the time of his dismissal. Under state law, he was legally allowed to carry his weapon.
But Geske said she worries the trial will teach the wrong lesson: “When you’re out protesting or protesting, you can absolutely carry a loaded weapon with you to ‘defend yourself’.” We’re going to have the important question of who’s protecting himself, when you have two people with the same gun? “
That sentiment is echoed by Karen Bloom and John Huber, parents of Anthony Huber, one of the men killed by Rittenhouse.
“It sends out the unacceptable message that armed civilians can show up in any town, incite violence and then use the danger they’ve created to justify the shoot people in the street,” they said in a statement.