Kyle Rittenhouse got away with murder in the USA, but I can’t imagine him being found ‘not guilty’ in any other country in the world. Also, were he a black man, not only would his claim of self-defence never be accepted, but also, I doubt that he would have lived one day longer than the day he was seen carrying a AR15 or any other gun, to a protest. For surely, some white policeman would have outed his lights without any provocation at all!
I assume that everyone recognizes the name Kyle Rittenhouse by now, but just in case, let me back up a bit.
On August 25, 2020, Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old boy from Antioch, Illinois, fatally shot two men and wounded another in Kenosha, Wisconsin. This was during protests and civil unrest that followed the shooting of a black man, Jacob Blake, by a white police officer.
Rittenhouse was armed with a semi-automatic AR15 rifle that he got from his friend as he was not old enough to buy a gun on his own.
Armed with this ‘weapon of war’, he accompanied friends from Illinois to neighbouring Wisconsin, supposedlyto protect a car dealership from being vandalized (it came out in the trial that this was unsolicited as there were no cars on the premises!) and, he testified, to provide medical aid to people who may be injured in the melee.
During the demonstration, he left the dealership’s compound and started patrolling in the streets with his AR15.
Naturally, since whites walking around with semi-automatic rifles in the USA never bodes well, as this is the preferred weapon of mass killers who murder innocent people in schools, churches etc, attempts were made by three courageous white men to disarm him. This resulted in two of the three being murdered in cold blood by Rittenhouse and one being severely injured.
Rittenhouse escaped back to Illinois and after much hesitancy, only public outrage led to him eventually being charged and tried for the murders.
At his trial, Rittenhouse pled ‘self-defence’ and was freed by a jury who was supported by a judge who was clearly biased against the prosecutors, as during the trial he displayed open animosity towards them.
An exonerated Rittenhouse is now the darling of the Republican party, other white supremacists and is wildly celebrated by gun advocates and commentators at Fox news. Former president Donald Trump invited him to Mar a Lago for a photo op and Qanoon advocate Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene introduced a Bill to award him a Congressional Gold Medal. It is also reported that Republican senators are vying among themselves to recruit him as an intern.
Why should Jamaicans pay attention to this case?
Because in Jamaica, naïve people have been publicly calling on America, over the years, to stop guns from being smuggled into our island.
Every time I hear this call I can only shake my head, as it is clear these people don’t understand the significant role guns play in the USA.
The right to obtain as many guns as you want is written into the American Constitution and as a result, in many states it is as easy to own a gun as to buy groceries!
And there is no distinction as to the type of guns one can obtain.
So, although for decades, responsible people and relatives of victims of mass shootings have been campaigning to have weapons of war excluded from everyday possession and use, this is always rejected.
This is because the gun manufacturing lobby is extremely rich and powerful, so for us to expect the US authorities to do anything to reduce their lucrative trade is so simplistic.
Getting rid of illegal guns which are driving up our murder rate annually, has to be the sole job of the Jamaican Government. No ifs or buts about it, so we can stop wasting time pleading with US authorities to help us.
Yes, Jamaica has hundreds of miles of coastline which makes smuggling easy, but nothing is easy, so we have to devise strategies to deal with this deadly problem.
If this recent case does not convince the naive that there will never be assistance from the USA in curbing gun exportation, nothing will.
Anyway, before making these useless pleas, have the naïve really not considered the fact that while guns are easily accessible in the USA, they have a per capita murder rate which is infinitesimal to ours?
No, I guess not, as we have always had the uncanny ability to excel at flogging the wrong horse!
Joan Williams is a former radio talk-show host.
She can be followed at; https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCj0wewemvZosv5SQNO3vnlw, https://joan-myviews.blogspot.com/ and contacted at [email protected]