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Hero or vigilante? Rittenhouse verdict reignites polarized U.S. gun debate -Breaking


© Reuters. The verdict of Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial is being pronounced outside Kenosha County Courthouse. This was November 19, 2021 in Wisconsin. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid


Joseph Ax

(Reuters). Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of murder charges Friday. This opens up a new front in America’s fight over gun rights.

Conservatives hail Rittenhouse for his self-defense, which he used to kill two protesters and injure another. He was defending himself at Kenosha’s Racial Justice Protest last year.

Gun control advocates warned that the verdict of the jury could spark a new wave in armed vigilantism. Rittenhouse, armed with an AR-15-style weapon and a rifle, traveled from Illinois to Kenosha, August 2020, following demonstrations over the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black male.

In the United States gun control has been an important political topic for decades. The country’s permissive laws have allowed civilian firearm owners to have the highest level of ownership anywhere in the world. For decades, mass shootings have been a problem in the United States. They are much more common than those of wealthy countries.

Rittenhouse, aged 17, decided to carry a gun on the streets of Kenosha in order to protect private property from rioters. This struck a nerve about how far gun rights can be extended.

Giffords’ top gun safety officials said that 17-year olds armed themselves with AR-15s makes them no safer, as the August tragedy showed. Today’s verdict is a disturbing message and will only encourage more vigilante violence, murder, and other forms of criminality.

Rittenhouse supporters, gun rights advocates and Rittenhouse supporters rejoiced at the result as a huge victory.

Within minutes, the National Rifle Association (NYSE) posted the Second Amendment language on Twitter (NYSE :): “A well regulated, secure militia, being necessary for the safety of a free nation, the right of people to keep or bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Brandon Lesco was holding a sign that read “Free Kyle!” outside Kenosha’s courthouse. The sign said that the verdict was fair.

It is necessary that someone be present to protect American cities from being set on fire. He was there. I also respect the fact that he had a gun, that he used it correctly, and that it was legal. Lesco said that all jurors concur.

Rittenhouse had earlier this week been dismissed from a misdemeanor accusation for illegally possessing a rifle that he used during the shootings.


Liberals condemned Rittenhouse’s conviction as another sign of racist criminal justice. Rittenhouse is, just like the other men he shot was white.

Margaret Huang (president and CEO, Southern Poverty Law Center) stated in a statement that “a white male youth could travel across state boundaries, arm with an assault rifle and engage in violent confrontation leading to multiple deaths without any criminal accountability.”

Legal experts made sure to distinguish between Rittenhouse’s specific facts and any larger message that it may send.

Janine Geske, an ex-Wisconsin Supreme Court justice, said there was a very high standard to meet in order to prove that Rittenhouse had not reasonable fear for his safety at the time of firing. He was allowed to openly carry his gun under state law.

Geske expressed concern that the trial would teach the wrong lesson. “When you go out to protest or counter-protest, it’s perfectly okay to carry loaded guns to protect yourself.” When you have two people carrying guns, there will be significant issues about who is defending them.

John Huber and Karen Bloom (parents of Anthony Huber), also echoed the sentiment.

In a statement, they stated, “It sends out the unacceptable message armed civilians may show up in any city, incite violence and then use that danger to justify shooting people in street.”