This past Tuesday, 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse “allegedly” killed two people and wounded another. Their names are Gaige Grosskreutz, Joseph Rosenbaum, and Anthony Huber. Rosenbaum and Huber died from the wounds inflicted by the shots Rittenhouse fired, while Grosskreutz is expected to survive.
Huber was a skateboarder.
As skateboarders, this death resonates and while every life lost in the wake of social unrest should be disturbing, unsettling, and disgusting, the murder of someone from our community—someone protesting the unlawful deaths of Black citizens of the United States at the hands of the police—humanizes the chaos Republicans denying daily and at their strange hate rallies aka the RNC. To some, Rittenhouse is a “hero.”
Many people posted about this latest injustice including photographer Atiba Jefferson and, unfortunately, some chose to argue that Rittenhouse was justified in his actions. They are not only wrong but they lack a cursory understanding of humanity, law, and the reasons why dissent is essential to change in the United States. It’s sickening.
Guns. Guns are so divisive in the United States. Even the most liberal citizens and lawmakers love them. It’s our right to own and carry guns. We fetishize guns. We wear clothing brandishing guns. We sing songs about guns. We talk about our need to own guns to hunt, for recreation, for preservation, for history, and for protection. Americans fucking love guns.
Skateboarders love them too. John Cardiel has professed that he owns “mega guns,” and loves shooting them.
I come from a family of gun owners—hunters. The funny thing is that they suck at hunting. My uncle is a bowhunter which at least gives the deer more of a chance to avoid death. He’s in his 60s and has never killed a deer in all his time in a tree stand, waiting to get that first kill. He’s not a very skilled bowhunter. My sister considers her self a Liberal but has often mentioned her need to own a weapon to defend her suburban family in the semi-woods of New Hampshire. “You don’t realize how dangerous my neighbors are” and she fantasizes about waking up to an intruder and “putting one in his fucking head.” This would never happen. Have you seen those videos of people rising from R.E.M. sleep and trying to shoot someone? It’s laughable at best. They have no chance in hell of doing this with a legal firearm.
When my father passed away I inherited his gun collection—“mega guns,” as Cardiel would say. Rifles, handguns, old guns, new guns, and a Walther PPK, the one James Bond used in the books and movies. My mother told me to “bring them back to New York,” advocating for me to illegal transport them without a license over state lines. Instead, I sold them all and bought stupid shit with the money.
Kyle Rittenhouse is 17-years-old and a resident of Illinois. He cannot vote, he cannot serve in the military without parental consent, he cannot buy cigs or booze, and he cannot legally purchase a firearm, but Kyle Rittenhouse will likely avoid the penalties he’s alleged of because of gun laws. Yes, despite not being able to open carry, despite not being a citizen of the place he shot his gun, despite not being lawful in his actions, the reality is that the penalties he’s facing are less severe than they should be.
Here’s why. (This entire section is taken from a piece written by Bruce Vielmetti
for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
Could the suspect carry the rifle legally?
Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old militia member who has been arrested and is facing a homicide charge in the matter, was not old enough to legally carry the assault-style rifle he had, according to statutes, which say anyone under 18 who "goes armed" with any deadly weapon is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. John Monroe, a lawyer who specializes in gun rights cases, believes an exception for rifles and shotguns, intended to allow people age 16 and 17 to hunt, could apply.
He could be in violation of having a gun within a gun-free zone, if there was, for instance, a school nearby. Also, Illinois law requires anyone who owns any kind of firearm in that state to have a Firearm Owners Identification card, but that is only available to someone 21 or older, or someone with a sponsor who is 21 and eligible for a card.
Can you use deadly force to protect property?
No. Videos from earlier Monday night showed Rittenhouse apparently guarding a used car lot, along with other men with guns. Comments on social media about some of the videos, from purported witnesses, indicated that Rittenhouse may have verbally confronted someone who was attempting to damage cars and that the person then began chasing Rittenhouse. It's unclear exactly what prompted the initial confrontation.
Was Rittenhouse acting in self-defense when he fired his weapon?
Many gun-rights advocates believe he was, based only on watching the videos, but that would ultimately be a question for a jury to answer.
Nik Clark, president and CEO of Wisconsin Carry, a gun rights advocacy group, who instructs classes for those obtaining concealed carry permits, thinks Rittenhouse followed the principles of such courses.
"We teach to retreat when possible," Clark said. "He's fleeing, but the threat follows him." He thought Rittenhouse showed restraint in not immediately shooting one of the people he later shot in the elbow after the man first halted his approach to Rittenhouse and then lunged at him.
Others will likely argue the people going after Rittenhouse in the street, after the first shooting, were attempting to detain him for police or get him to drop the gun and avoid further shootings.
What charges will Rittenhouse ultimately face?
Kenosha officials did not indicate that at a news conference Wednesday. Lake County, Illinois, records suggest that at least one death will be charged as first-degree intentional homicide, which carries a mandatory life sentence. The case could resolve in a lesser charge through plea bargaining. Rittenhouse could face a reckless homicide charge in the second death that, according to video, appears to be in reaction to an attack.
Does Wisconsin have a stand-your-ground law?
No. Such laws, like in Florida, say you can threaten or use deadly force in response to a perceived threat of great bodily harm without first having to try to retreat or escape the threat. Wisconsin does recognize the so-called Castle Doctrine, which presumes a person acted lawfully in self-defense when they use deadly force within their home, vehicle or business. But that presumption can be overcome with evidence that the use of force was unreasonable.
Two people died “allegedly” at the hands of Kyle Rittenhouse who is a minor. They were protesting the unlawful deaths of other Americans by police officers but we still have people arguing about this. Go back to Jefferson’s post and you’ll notice people—skateboarders I presume—making the case that Jefferson is wrong about the events that transpired Tuesday and that Mr. Rittenhouse is a “hero” who acted within his rights… a minor, open carrying in not his home state, and shooting at civilians, resulting in two deaths and one severely injured.
Mr. Rittenhouse premeditated this standoff. He has used his now-defunct social media channels to spread racist and misogynistic messages—just like our President.
“So people are getting injured and our job is to protect this business,” Rittenhouse tells the camera. “And part of my job is to also help people. If there is somebody hurt I’m running into harm's way. That’s why I have my rifle because I need to protect myself, obviously. I also have my med kit.” Rittenhouse also confirmed that he attended the protest to defend properties in Kenosha from any vandalism.
Kyle Rittenhouse is a white boy who was radicalized and most likely doesn’t actually care about vandalism or a neighborhood he’s not from. What he’s alleged of is reprehensible and an example of the sickness that’s infected millions of Americans but he will be defended, seen as a hero, and “we” will argue about our right to bear arms because in the land of the free, we hate being told what to do, even if it’s completely illogical and detrimental to society and democracy.
The gun Rittenhouse used during this act did not exist when the Second Amendment was written. When an unarmed Black person is killed by the police, the Right will immediately dictate what they “should have done,” which is often “Do what they’re told.”
Kyle Rittenhouse did not obey the law but some consider his actions lawful and just. They are not. I’m not proposing that we live in a country without guns. I’m asking you to take a moment to think about why a teenage boy would hunt other Americans who are so fucking upset with unlawful murder that they are in the streets—supposedly protected by law—voicing their dissent. Then think of the larger issues, then the smaller issues, and how you can help, and how you can vote, and where you can donate before you get back to your routine, because we all have a routine.
Unfortunately, the new routine is waking up to death on our soil and arguing about whether or not it was justified.