Ross: The gun changes everything

Nov 12, 2021, 5:50 AM | Updated: 9:59 am
Rittenhouse, gun...
Kyle Rittenhouse, center, enters the courtroom after a break at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021. Rittenhouse is accused of killing two people and wounding a third during a protest over police brutality in Kenosha, last year. (Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News via AP, Pool)
(Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News via AP, Pool)

I think we all agree that you have a right to defend yourself when you think someone is about to kill you. But claiming self-defense is not that simple when you choose to openly carry a gun.

This week, during the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse – who shot and killed two unarmed men during last year’s riot in Kenosha, Wisconsin – Mr. Rittenhouse testified that shooting his first victim, Joseph Rosenbaum, was an act of self-defense:

“If he would’ve taken my gun, he would’ve used it against me,” he said.

In other words, his reason for using his gun – was to protect himself FROM HIS OWN GUN.

The solution to that problem would be not to carry a gun to a riot.

I can see why he would want to – there were certainly dangerous people in Kenosha that night. Rosenbaum, the victim, was not just a bystander – he was seen carrying a steel chain, and lighting a trash can on fire. But stopping riots is what we train the police to do. And even with that training, they sometimes screw up.

Rittenhouse, who has no police training, shows up with an AR-15, assuming it will be a deterrent. But instead, it just provokes Joseph Rosenbaum:

“You’re telling us that you felt like you were about to die, right?” the prosecutor asked.

“Yes,” Rittenhouse replied.

“But when you point the gun at someone else, that’s going to make them feel like they’re about to die, right? That’s what you wanted him to feel,” the prosecutor said.

“No,” Rittenhouse said.

“You wanted him to get the message from you that ‘if you come any closer, I’m going to kill you,’ that’s why you pointed the gun at him, right?”

“I pointed the gun at him to deter him from — I pointed the gun at him so he would stop chasing me. That’s why I pointed the gun at him,” Rittenhouse said.

“Because if you point the gun at him, you were hoping he would stop chasing you because he would get the message from you that if he keeps coming, you’re going to kill him. Right?”

“I didn’t want to have to kill Mr. Rosenbaum,” Rittenhouse stated.

And yet, that is what guns are designed to do. If you’re not prepared to kill somebody, you carry a taser, not an AR-15. It never crossed his mind that the gun he chose to carry for self-defense could make other people feel a need to defend themselves from him.

The defense wants the jury to see Rittenhouse as a confused teenager who idolized police and hoped to be a hero that night. Maybe they will.

But whatever they decide, his decision to arm up will follow him forever.

Because the gun changes everything.

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