The right to self-defense is granted to all American citizens through American law. More specifically, through the Second Amendment to the US Constitution. Americans were recently rocked by the killings in Kenosha, Wisconsin, allegedly by Kyle Rittenhouse. The question before America and the courts is whether Rittenhouse is an American hero or a garden variety vigilante?
The Rittenhouse event became an instant pandora’s box, opening a can of constitutional worms, and raising concerns about the right to self and community protection. But were the actions of Mr. Rittenhouse the action of vigilante justice. Is he an American hero or a loose cannon? And what about the other armed protesters? One, in particular, was armed with a handgun and shot in the arm by Kyle. That person has not been arrested.
Justifiable Self-Defense or Criminal Action
The question of justified self-defense is debated and argued to this day in our justice system, with many states adopting what is known as the “Castle Doctrine.” The legal theory that states one’s self-defense and the defense of one’s property is a fundamental right to a safe existence…to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. When are we, as Americans, lawfully able to exercise this right without the threat of intimidation and jail time? After all, without self-defense and community safety, what do we have as a nation?
Enter Kyle Rittenhouse. Kyle is the now famous, 17-year-old from Antioch, Illinois, who became the target of mass media attention after shooting 3 protesters, killing 2, during the second night of the Kenosha, WI riots.
Kenosha was rocked with agitation, protests, rioting, and property destruction immediately following the shooting of Jacob Blake by police who at the time were attempting to arrest him. Reports say he was shot 7 times in the hack. He is now hospitalized and paralyzed from the waist down.
No End to the 2nd Amendment Debate
The growing debate in America is whether citizens can and should be allowed to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights to protect their communities in the absence of law enforcement and in the face of destruction, looting, and threats of physical harm.
According to a video from reporter Richie McGinniss of The Daily Caller, Rittenhouse stated that he was at the Kenosha protest to protect local businesses and aid in providing medical attention to those who were injured during the protests. His role evolved into law enforcement, citizen law enforcement.
During the violence, Kyle, armed with what was reported to be an AR-15, was attacked by agitators using a skateboard and knocked to the ground. Reports say at least one of his attackers was armed. Rittenhouse fired on his attackers, in what he claims was self-defense.
Is Rittenhouse a Modern Day Dirty Harry?
Is Rittenhouse an American hero or a vigilante? He may be neither. I’m certain he is not a modern-day Dirty Harry. After the facts are gathered, we’ll know more. For now, I’m comfortable saying, Rittenhouse is a citizen who had both a constitutional right to carry, and was attacked by real vigilantes forcing him to exercise his right to defend himself when threatened with bodily harm and potential loss of life.
To be sure, the Founders crafted the Second Amendment as a profound right of every citizen to defend themselves, their families, homes, businesses, and communities. As it stands now, Kyle Rittenhouse was exercising his constitutional rights.
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