Now that many of the “hot takes” regarding the Kyle Rittenhouse trial have cooled, I am going to slowly try to shed some light on some aspects of the situation I think have gotten less attention than they should. As my friend Robin says, let’s consider the lobster.
Much like the case of George Zimmerman, some people in the defensive gun culture are reluctant to say anything that might be perceived as critical of Kyle Rittenhouse because his prosecution is seen as a threat the right to use lethal force in self-defense.
Although I recognize the need to see the broader legal implications of particular cases, for me the critical silence is unfortunate because there are some clear lessons to be learned from both Zimmerman and Rittenhouse for the average armed citizen – people like me and my audience. Perhaps now that the case is decided, people will feel more at liberty to consider these lessons publicly.
Additionally, the critical silence allows Rittenhouse to be co-opted by the usual suspects on the right who are valorizing him for political purposes. Organizations like the Gun Owners of America, which thanked Rittenhouse for being a “warrior for gun owners,” and talking heads like Ann Coulter, who tweeted an image of comic book superheros bowing in reverence to Rittenhouse.
But Kyle Rittenhouse isn’t a Gun Culture 2.0 hero. He’s a cautionary tale. If he is a poster child for anything, it is for the civilian gun training industry.
Rather than the Gun Owners of America and other political opportunists offering to give Kyle Rittenhouse a new AR-15 style rifle, I would rather see proponents of responsibly armed citizenship offer to give him the kinds of training courses that I have taken over the years. Courses that focus as much on thinking as on shooting. As Rittenhouse himself and mass public shooters routinely demonstrate, the shooting is the easy (or easier) part of the equation, especially if you’re using a rifle.
Among the courses I have participated in or observed over the years that I would recommend for Rittenhouse or those who want to avoid his mistakes are:
*John Murphy’s “Concealed Carry: Advanced Skills and Tactics” course (now subtitled “Street Encounter Skills and Tactics”). Among other lessons, students in this course learn how to carry and deploy pepper spray.
*Craig Douglas’s Extreme Close Quarters Concepts (ECQC), which offers an interdisciplinary approach to self-defense designed to “give every student the empty-hand skills of an MMA fighter, the firearm skills of a USPSA grand master, and the verbal agility of a stand-up comic.” This last ability is probably the most important one for most people on most days and falls under the broader rubric of managing unknown contacts (MUC). As Douglas says, “A good self-defense course should begin with not letting it get shitty.”
*Joe Weyer’s Carbine/Handgun Shoothouse course at Alliance Police Training. The course title is a bit misleading, as I have noted. It ought to be called “Decision-Making with a Gun.” In Weyer’s estimation, the firearms part of the gunfight is only 10% of the equation; 90% is decision-making. As the old saw goes, if you only have a hammer (gun), everything looks like a nail (someone who needs shooting). In our case, the hammer is the least important tool we have.
There are many other great courses and trainers out there, so this list is just a start based on courses I have actually participated in. You can learn more on my gun training industry collected posts page.