Kyle Rittenhouse does not represent American gun owners today

Kyle Rittenhouse does not represent American gun owners today

The image of Kyle Rittenhouse walking the streets of Kenosha, Wis., carrying an AR-15 style rifle has been burned into the American consciousness. After his arrest, Rittenhouse was embraced by the right wing of American gun culture. Upon his acquittal, the National Rifle Association (NRA) tweeted text from the Second Amendment and the Gun Owners of America (GOA) called him a “warrior for gun owners.” These responses animate claims from the American left that Rittenhouse is a “poster child for the NRA and folk hero for the gun culture.” I have spent the past ten years researching American gun culture. During that time, I have found gun culture and ownership to be more diverse than is often portrayed. Kyle Rittenhouse does not represent American gun owners today, either in his actions or his person. It is true that the center of gravity of American gun culture has shifted definitively toward self-defense, what I call Gun Culture 2.0 , and that AR-15 style rifles are favored among defensive rifle owners. But of the millions of gun owners who own approximately 20 million AR-15 style rifles, very few choose to publicly patrol with them during periods of social unrest. Fewer still end up using them in self-defense incidents as a result. Such behavior is not encouraged in the mainstream of American gun culture. In my research I have spent hundreds of hours participating in and observing defensive firearms training courses. A consistent theme in these courses is for armed citizens to […]

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