The controversial Rittenhouse trial will be argued by citizens, probed by legal scholars, studied by lawyers ad nauseam.
A jury in Kenosha, Wis., found Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty of homicide, attempted homicide and reckless endangering charges after killing two men and wounding a third during a protest against police violence against Black people in 2020.
It appears to me that the jury’s decision was properly decided because the Wisconsin law on which it was based is both immoral and insane, and a bungling prosecution was outmatched by a $2 million defense fund provided by gun advocates.
These assertions are informed by my experience as a newspaper reporter covering crime and two manslaughter trials, a life-long interest in crime and justice, and watching far too many hours of television reporting on the Rittenhouse trial and other sensational trials.
A caveat is appropriate here. Television media coverage of sensational trials is abysmal, often leaving out important information while focusing on the emotional.
How many times has 18-year-old Rittenhouse’s tearful testimony been replayed in newscasts? He was 17 years old when he apparently illegally carried a semi-automatic rifle and was in violation of a curfew at the time of the shooting.
No doubt, Rittenhouse regrets taking the rifle to the demonstration, and the taking of two lives. Certainly it influenced jurors and many citizens viewing it on TV; but it doesn’t address guilt.
There aren’t enough negative adjectives in the lexicon of the English language to adequately describe Wisconsin’s laws that make it legal for anyone to carry firearms at protest demonstrations.
The result of such laws is chaos. Complete disorder and confusion.
I’ve already used immoral. Insane also is valid, as are dozens of other adjectives.
No, the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not give citizens unregulated rights to bear arms. It reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Public misunderstanding of the right to bear arms is based on Supreme Court misinterpretations that ignore the precise words of the amendment itself: “A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State … ”
Clearly, the founders based those words on militia organized and controlled by states, not by anti-government mobs.
The Rittenhouse trial is an example of national decay with ominous portends for America’s future.
Day is a retired Washington State faculty member and a Pullman resident since 1972. He encourages email — pro and con — to firstname.lastname@example.org.