Being an Alabama native, I realize the unpopularity of writing about gun ownership and why some people should not be allowed.
I will first acknowledge that my personal experience with gun ownership has yet to happen. A relative attempted to teach me how to use one years ago, but quickly realized I was more dangerous with one than any assailant I might encounter.
Most folks here support the rallying cry of “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”
However, this southerner happens to believe that access to guns is way too easy in this country and that there needs to be a law against purchasing certain automatic weapons for personal use.
Acknowledging that any type of gun control will never show up in any legislature in this country does not change my opinion on the subject.
Mass shootings are becoming a common occurrence and our school children are the latest targets. When the most vulnerable of our society are at risk, it frightens me to think what our future and theirs hold.
As Americans we pride ourselves on pledging loyalty to our country. Some of us grew up in classrooms where prayers were said and continued with a solemn pledge of allegiance to our flag and to the Republic for which it stands. And we did so proudly.
But sometimes it seems justice is not all inclusive. And when that happens, it can make us question our faith in the process.
The trial of Kyle Rittenhouse and the subsequent verdict has us once again talking about guns and justice.
On Aug. 25, 2020, Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old boy from Illinois, traveled to Kenosha, Wisconsin to interject himself into the chaos of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests being held there.
Rittenhouse fatally shot two men and wounded a third. There is no dispute on that fact. The killings occurred during protests of police brutality over the shooting of a Black man by a white police officer.
Rittenhouse was later charged with first degree reckless homicide and use of a dangerous weapon in the death of Joseph Rosenbaum. Prosecutors said his actions showed disrespect for human life. This charge carried a 60-year prison term.
Rosenbaum was caught on video chasing Rittenhouse and throwing a plastic bag at him before he was shot.
The second count alleged first degree reckless endangerment and use of a dangerous weapon. A conviction would have resulted in a 12-year sentence.
Count three was first degree reckless endangerment and use of a deadly weapon. This was the result of a video showing a man trying to disarm Rittenhouse. Rittenhouse fired at the man but missed. This carried another 12-year sentence.
The fourth count was first degree intentional homicide in the death of Anthony Huber. Huber was seen on video swinging a skateboard at Rittenhouse before he was shot. This charge carried a 60-year sentence.
Count five, attempted first degree intentional homicide involved the shooting of Gaige Grosskreutz in the arm. Grosskreutz was filmed aiming a pistol at Rittenhouse.
The sixth count was possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18. Rittenhouse was armed with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle. Wisconsin law explicitly prohibits minors from possessing firearms, except for hunting and target practice.
Count seven was for failure to comply with an emergency order from state or local government. Kenosha was under an 8 p.m. curfew the night of the shootings.
It was no surprise when Rittenhouse was acquitted amid claims of self-defense.
Judge Bruce Shroeder ruled the two men who were killed could not be called ‘victims’ by the prosecution. Shroeder claimed the term was a “loaded” word. But at the same time, he agreed the terms, “rioters,” “looters” or “arsonists” could be used by the defense.
Even though these men’s actions were caught on video, like much of the shootings were, they were never arrested, charged or convicted. If a guilty verdict was to be determined only by what was seen on video, then Rittenhouse would be in jail.
Before the jury began its deliberations, Shroeder dismissed the weapons and failure to comply charges citing inadequate evidence and confusing law terms.
Yes, there was evidence some of his actions were in self-defense, but a plastic bag and a skateboard are hardly a match for a semi-automatic weapon.
Rittenhouse should never have inserted himself into the volatile situation in the first place. He should have been arrested on sight. But he wasn’t, and two men died.
It is safe to say the two sides of gun control continue to maintain their opinions on the outcome of the trial, with no middle ground in sight.
Prosecutors went looking for justice and found none.
And that is a shame, because if one of us does not count, then we all lose.
Anita McGill is a former publisher of The Sentinel. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.