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DONNIE JOHNSTON: Rittenhouse was looking for trouble—and found it

DONNIE JOHNSTON: Rittenhouse was looking for trouble—and found it

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Kenosha Protest Shootings

Kyle Rittenhouse puts his hand over his face after he is found not guilt on all counts at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Friday, Nov. 19, 2021. The jury came back with its verdict afer close to 3 1/2 days of deliberation. (Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News via AP, Pool)

DID Kyle Rittenhouse get away with murder?

A Kenosha, Wis., jury acquitted the 18-year-old in the shooting deaths of two men and the wounding of another. Those shootings occurred on Aug. 25, 2020, on the streets of Kenosha during a civil demonstration protesting the shooting of a Black man by a white police officer.

Knowing that there was a protest going on, Rittenhouse, then 17, took his AR-15 assault rifle and crossed the state line from his home in Illinois to become part of the demonstrations and rioting.

According to testimony, Rittenhouse was at some point confronted by three men who were obviously older and tougher than the Illinois youth. Rittenhouse responded by shooting all three, killing two.

Rittenhouse pleaded self-defense, claiming that if Joseph Rosenbaum, the first man he shot, would have killed him had he wrested the rifle away from him. The jury bought the argument.

When you travel more than 20 miles with an assault rifle in hand, you are looking for trouble. Yes, carrying a loaded weapon, even an AR-15, is legal in this country, but walking down the street during a riot with such a weapon is a dangerous adventure.

Rittenhouse said he knew Rosenbaum was unarmed, but claimed that he feared for his life because if Rosenbaum had taken the rifle away from him he would have shot him. There was absolutely no proof of this. Rittenhouse could not possibly know what was in Rosenbaum’s mind or how he would react.

The crux of the matter is that if Rittenhouse had stayed home and not tried to play vigilante, none of this would have happened. Even if this youth did want to protect stores from looters, that was not his job. That was the responsibility of the store owners and the police.

Another point that seems overlooked is the fact that Rittenhouse’s parents allowed their son to travel to Kenosha with a loaded AR-15. A 17-year-old is a minor and in almost every state in the union, parents can be held responsible for the reckless actions of a child under 18.

How many parents reading this would allow their child to take an assault rifle into a street riot? How many parents would allow a 17-year-old to own an AR-15?

Yes, 16- and 17-year-olds served in World War II, but that was for national defense. This was a protest and street riot.

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of this whole mess was that when Rittenhouse was acquitted, former President Donald Trump reportedly invited the Illinois youth to his Florida home to congratulate him.

This only serves to empower others, already empowered by the not guilty verdict, to take to the streets with guns during future protests and riots. Trump’s congratulatory invitation makes Rittenhouse look like a hero.

The Constitution gives every American the right to own and carry a gun, but the Founding Fathers did not give us that right so we could go out looking for trouble.

If someone breaks into your home or business or otherwise threatens you bodily harm through no fault of your own, you obviously have a right to defend yourself. But when you travel 20 miles with an AR-15 to put yourself into the middle of chaos and rioting, you are just asking for trouble. And when you ask for trouble, you generally get it.

The Kenosha jury apparently did not think this way. Its verdict, along with Trump’s elevation of Rittenhouse to hero status, seems to pave the way for vigilante justice to make a return to America.

Some will blame the white officer who shot the Black man for starting the whole mess that engulfed Kenosha in 2020. Others will blame the rioters who took to the streets in protest.

But the jury obviously did not blame Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old Illinois kid who traveled 20 miles with an AR-15 to be a big man. Or his parents, who allowed their son to go.

Unfortunately, it is verdicts like this that will ultimately lead to gun control in this country.

To use a weapon to protect home and property is one thing. To grab your gun and go looking for trouble is another thing entirely.

Donald Trump should know that.

Donnie Johnston:


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