I know it’s been a little while since I’ve had much to say over here. While I would have liked to weigh in on the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict sooner, maybe it’s just as well that I have waited a bit for the dust to settle. (Link is to the Wikipedia article for those who need background.)
The regular readers of this blog know I lean left (liberal/Democrat) and progressive on many issues. Gun violence is a problem. The reality of American culture, particularly in southern states such as my native Texas, is that gun ownership is seen as a right and the Second Amendment is interpreted broadly to mean gun ownership should not be prohibited and gun purchases should not be denied except in rare cases. These problems don’t exist in a lot of other countries where gun ownership is considered a privilege. Japan, for example, has a screening process for firearm ownership that would make many Americans either cringe or scream “fascism”. The Japanese police interview everyone who knows the potential firearm owner. New gun owners in Japan must undergo a mental health check and a shooting-range accuracy test (the latter of which on which one must score 95% every three years). The new gun owner must also provide a blueprint of the house where the guns will be stored, and mark that location. Spent cartridges must be turned in to get new ones, and if one goes missing . Japanese police officers must be black belts in judo, as it’s preferred to de-escalate situations without the use of firearms. Japan is probably the most extreme example, but the gun culture is different in almost every other country besides the United States.
Speaking of the United States, here it’s often easier to buy a gun than a car or a boat. Heck, it’s usually easier to buy a gun than get psychiatric counseling! (The last of these can also be seen as a failure of our largely for-profit healthcare system, but is an important reason behind the relatively high amount of gun violence nonetheless.)
All that said, back to the matter at hand. I am not convinced that the unfortunate loss of life that occurred at the hands of Kyle Rittenhouse and his gun was a criminal act for which he should be held accountable. One of the people that got killed was trying to take Kyle’s gun from him, not exactly the pinnacle of intelligent conduct. The other one was trying to beat him up with a skateboard. I think the old saying “don’t bring a knife to a gun fight” could easily be edited to include “don’t bring a skateboard to a gun fight, either”. The third casualty, who was shot in the arm and survived, was pointing his gun at Kyle, believing him to be an active shooter (i.e. “the bad guy with a gun”).
The standard of proof in a criminal case is “beyond a reasonable doubt”, and in the end Kyle’s defense attorneys did their jobs and showed reasonable doubt to secure a verdict of not guilty. That said I do believe there is cause for concern that a 17-year old wound up with a gun in a situation such as the civil disturbance in Kenosha and wound up firing bullets from it only hours later. The concern is valid even if no crimes have been committed either by giving Kyle the gun or by his use of it.