Kyle Rittenhouse’s Acquittal and America’s Gun Laws

 
Pool photo by Sean Krajacic

To the Editor:

Re “Kyle Rittenhouse Is Acquitted on All Counts” (live updates, nytimes.com, Nov. 19):

If Kyle Rittenhouse hadn’t brought a gun to the protest in the first place, none of this would have happened: no deaths, no gunshots, no murders, no need for “self-defense.” But he did. He set himself up. He should suffer the consequences of his actions.

Kyle Rittenhouse deserved to be convicted. His behavior and its repercussions should be an example for everyone. Guns = Death. Fewer guns = fewer deaths.

Barbara Koenen
Chicago

To the Editor:

The not guilty verdict was always the likely outcome of this trial, and the jury’s evaluation after having heard and considered all the evidence is really beyond the critique of casual observers. As to these facts, and the applicable law, the jury came to a reasonable decision.

The acquittal in this case aside, there is a broader societal lesson to be learned: Whether we look at the Trayvon Martin or the Ahmaud Arbery killings, or the rifle-toting white supremacist militiamen who intimidate their political enemies, permissive gun legislation results in very few good guys shooting bad guys, but instead creates scenarios that put us all at risk.

As the founders wisely framed the Second Amendment, dangerous weapons are meant to be in the hands of a “well regulated militia,” not a teenager or self-appointed vigilantes.

Asher Fried
Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y.

To the Editor:

I am terrified. Open carry, self-defense excuses for killings — where does this end? No need to discuss or even scream at each other. Just shoot.

Myra Saul
Scarsdale, N.Y.

To the Editor:

If I saw a stranger walking outside my house with an AR-15-style rifle slung over his shoulder, I would certainly feel threatened and see it as an aggressive act.

The confluence of events leading to the deaths of two protesters in Kenosha, Wis., was a disaster waiting to happen. An immature 17-year-old, Kyle Rittenhouse, carrying a loaded weapon. The heightened emotions regarding the protest. A man, Joseph Rosenbaum, with mental health issues who may have been triggered by strangers carrying guns.

This case raises issues of Second Amendment rights and whether a person can legally shoot to kill an unarmed person and claim self-defense. Generally, a person cannot claim self-defense if that person was the initial aggressor. We as a nation need to carefully consider whether open carry of a lethal weapon is, in fact, an aggressive act.

The jury decided the defendant acted in self-defense. It was not in a position to address the limited restrictions of the Second Amendment and the open-carry policies that create a dangerous environment for all Americans. Will our legislators ever take this on?

Mark Golden
Newton, Mass.

To the Editor:

From my vantage point up here in the cheap seats north of the border, it occurs to me that apart from the racial and gun rights issues this case involves, there is another far more disquieting aspect.

As the Rittenhouse courtroom drama played out in Kenosha, Wis., in Georgia, another murder trial was underway. This one involves the case of three white men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was out for a jog near Brunswick, Ga. The man who chased down Mr. Arbery and fatally shot him claims he acted in self-defense while conducting a citizen’s arrest.

There’s a disquieting common thread that runs through both the Rittenhouse and Arbery trials — the notion that in 2021, frontier-style vigilante justice is viewed as being legal and laudable in many parts of the United States.

In both the Rittenhouse and Arbery cases, the accused claim they were acting as ersatz police officers and were justified in firing shots in self-defense. I can’t help but wonder if these aren’t signs of a society in which the rule of law is crumbling before our eyes. That should be a worrisome thing for all Americans of whatever political stripes. And Canadians, too.

Ken Cuthbertson
Kingston, Ontario

To the Editor:

Try to imagine the roles of Ahmaud Arbery and Kyle Rittenhouse in reverse. Mr. Arbery, a teenager, is patrolling the streets of Kenosha with his AR-15-style rifle visible to all. The city is racially charged after a Black man, Jacob Blake, has been shot by the police. There are skirmishes and two men are shot dead by Mr. Arbery and one is seriously injured. Assuming Mr. Arbery makes it through the night alive, a stretch by even the most imaginative, he draws the same judge that Kyle Rittenhouse has. Would he get the same leeway?

Now imagine Kyle Rittenhouse as the jogger outside Brunswick, Ga. Do armed white men respond when they see him running after a suspicious neighbor calls the police? If they do, does the jogger end up dead?

If you believe that the outcomes of these interactions would be different if the respective roles of these two young men would be reversed, then it follows that you must believe that systemic racism is a part of our country.

Elliott Miller
Bala Cynwyd, Pa.

Samuel Corum for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “House Narrowly Passes Biden’s Social Safety Net and Climate Bill” (nytimes.com, Nov. 19):

I for one am happy to see that the House of Representatives passed legislation to address climate change, provide support for American families, give assistance for education and improve health care for millions. All Democrats but one voted for this bill; Republicans all voted to oppose.

What we have heard from Republicans is a loud chorus of “no.” They are quite expansive in their declaration of opposition, relishing the fight against the “Biden bill.” I’d like to know what they are for. Looking at the vote I can only come to the conclusion that Republicans don’t want to address climate change, provide support for American families, give assistance for education and improve health care for millions.

Is that right? Republicans, is your only policy to oppose anything that Democrats want? Do you really care so little for the American people, for our country and the world? Seems to me that it would be quite foolish to vote any such politicians back into office. This policy of opposition is perilous, to Republicans, to the country and to the world.

Paul Harper
Minneapolis

To the Editor:

The Achilles’ heel in President Biden’s bill is the difference between the Congressional Budget Office and White House projections for the revenue derived over 10 years, and its dependence on tax increases on high earners and corporations that dodge large tax bills.

To date, lobbyists have demonstrated their effectiveness in getting Congress to legislate loopholes that prevent what this bill is trying to accomplish.

John A. Viteritti
Laurel, N.Y.

To the Editor:

Senator Elizabeth Warren’s analysis says the bill would increase taxes on at least 70 of the largest companies. Will those tax increases be paid by shareholders? Will executive pay and perks be reduced? Or will those increased taxes be passed along to consumers? I think we all know the answer.

Daniel Dziedzic
Rochester Hills, Mich.