Readers of this blog who do not follow me on social media (Facebook and Twitter) may have missed a couple of my commentaries on the Kyle Rittenhouse situation. So, I am going to use this post to keep track of my ongoing thoughts.
First, prior to the verdict, a reporter for The Associated Press invited me to talk to her about what the events tell us about American gun culture today. In the interview, I tried to add some complexity to the simplistic narratives I see often in media accounts.
Among other thoughts, the AP story included the following: “while Rittenhouse’s core supporters believe he did nothing wrong from start to finish, a much larger group of gun owners ‘are somewhere in between,’ Yamane said. While they support Rittenhouse’s right to defend himself in the moment, they also think he had no business being there.”
Second, thinking about my conversation with the AP reporter, I decided to try to articulate more fully my thoughts on why Kyle Rittenhouse is not “the face of gun culture today.” Those thoughts were published recently in The Hill.
Looking at both his actions in taking up the role of an armed civilian patrolling the streets during a riot and his demographics, I conclude that “Kyle Rittenhouse does not represent gun owners today.”
Obviously he represents some gun owners today. But my point was to dispute those who want to argue that Rittenhouse is synonymous with gun owners today. And to challenge the idea that conservative politics/politicians like the Donald Trumps (Sr. and Jr.) who valorize Rittenhouse are synonymous with contemporary gun culture, as many believe. And to suggest that organizations promoting Rittenhouse as a folk hero like the NRA and Gun Owners of America are not synonymous with gun owners or gun culture, as has been asserted to me.
Third, I also believe, based on my decade wandering around Gun Culture 2.0, that Kyle Rittenhouse is a cautionary tale. As I wrote in a recent blog post here, if he is a poster child for anything, it is for the civilian gun training industry. Rather than offering to give him a new AR, as some organizations and businesses have, give him some high level training in applied violence (beyond the gun) like those I mention in my post.
I will continue to add short summaries of my thoughts on what we can learn from the events surrounding Kyle Rittenhouse as they come to me. I am working up some thoughts regarding Gaige Grosskreutz and Dominick Black, for example.