As we await the jury’s verdict in the Rittenhouse trial, I think we need to look at the whole episode from a somewhat different point of view. In closing arguments, the prosecutor accused Rittenhouse of deliberately shooting three individuals because he was an ‘instigator’ of violence rather than defending himself from being attacked. The defense, on the ither hand, claimed that Rittenhouse showed up in Kenosha because he wanted to ‘help’ a community that was being overrun.

              So, on the one hand, Rittenhouse shows up with an assault rifle because he was prepared to help control a mob by using his gun. On the other hand, he came into Kenosha armed with an extremely lethal weapon because, after all, you never know when a situation might get out of hand and self-protection is on your mind.

              Back in 2014, I interviewed some adolescents who were ‘residents’ of the youth jail and were incarcerated for the most serious crimes. These kids were between 14 and 17 years old, and when they turned eighteen, they would be transferred to a state penitentiary to do time for crimes like arson, murder, and aggravated assault (i.e., they tried to kill someone but didn’t shoot straight.)

              I asked each of these kids two questions: 1). How hard was it to get a gun? 2). Why did they need to carry a gun? Answer to Question #1 – they laughed. Answer to Question #2 – they needed a gun to protect themselves.

              If anyone had asked Kyle Rittenhouse these same two questions, I guarantee he would have answered the same way that the inmates in this youth jail replied to me when I asked them about guns. And as far as I’m concerned, what this trial really represents is how we react to a unique form of American culture and behavior, which is vigilante justice.

              We are the only country in the entire world which allows residents in some, but not all states, to stand their ground and respond to a potential threat without first backing down. We are also the only country in the entire world which allows most of its residents to stand in place and use a gun to protect themselves when they choose not to back down.

              If the jury decides to buy Rittenhouse’s argument that he only showed up in Kenosha because he wanted to help protect the good people from a mob, I could understand why such an argument might carry the day. After all, the notion of being a ‘good Samaritan’ goes all the way back to Biblical times.

              But if someone wanted to help out people in distress, why show up with an AR-15? Isn’t that the role and responsibility of the cops? Isn’t that what we pay them to do?

              What has the gun business been selling since they discovered back in the 1980’s that nobody was all that interested in going out into the woods to take a shot at Bambi or Smokey the Bear? They’ve been selling the idea of vigilante justice because how can anyone wait around for the cops to show up?

              Know how Merriam-Webster defines vigilante? It’s defined as a ‘self-appointed doer of justice.’ Which is no doubt what Kyle Rittenhouse thought he was doing – representing justice by standing in front of a mob with his AR-15.

              Know what Rittenhouse was representing? Nothing but his young, stupid self. Which happens to be, unfortunately, what happens when you let a 17-year old walk around with a weapon that is designed to do one thing and one thing only, namely, to end human life.

              Anyone who wants to delude themselves into thinking that Kyle Rittenhouse was carrying a ‘sporting’ gun, has a brain that is about as capable of producing a realistic thought as Herman Mermelstein, who happens to be my cat.

              And by the way, that previous thought should also be applied to one of the victims of the onslaught – George Grosskreutz – who showed up at the scene with a Glock pistol that he no doubt was carrying to help him provide first-aid to some of the people in the street.

              Frankly, I’m surprised that in the more than five hundred wrongful shooting demonstrations last year, that there weren’t a lot more vigilantes who tried to protect represent justice against an unruly or dangerous crowd.

              Maybe Americans aren’t all that violent even though they own somewhere between 300 million and 400 million guns.