Rittenhouse verdict comes amid a fraught gun landscape

The upcoming verdict in Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial for shooting three men during street unrest in Wisconsin comes against a backdrop of deep political divisions and expanded access to guns in the United States – factors that some fear could lead to more dangerous encounters. The 18-year-old testified he fired in self-defense, killing two men and wounding a third, after coming under attack during a night of protests against racial injustice in Kenosha in the summer of 2020. But prosecutors argue that Rittenhouse set the deadly chain of events in motion by traveling from his home in nearby Illinois and arming himself with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle. While legal experts have said the details give Rittenhouse a strong argument for self-defense, some worry about the broader signal an acquittal could send. The jury that heard the case deliberated a full day Tuesday without reaching a decision; they return Wednesday. “It’s easy to see how an acquittal could send the message that there are no consequences for showing up armed wherever you want, and then when situations escalate, you pull the trigger and get away with it,” said Nick Suplina, senior vice president for law and policy at Everytown for Gun Safety. The case comes at a time when many other states are expanding self-defense laws and loosening permitting requirements for carrying guns in public. The U.S. Supreme Court, meanwhile, seems poised to strike down a stricter New York gun-permitting law. Both gun sales and gun violence have separately been […]

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