Right off the bat: get out of here with politics. We're talking about the individual's decision. Who in their right mind thinks: There are riots occurring in the next state. So, I'll strap on my assault rifle, grab a first aid kit, and jump into the fray. Nothing bad will happen, right? Sorry. Guns and riots don't mix. It's not altruism, it's stupidity. And its stupidity costing two lives that Rittenhouse will likely be acquitted of.
But wait, how is it legally possible for a teen with a semi-automatic rifle to jump into human chaos? Aren't these the precise situations that deadly weapons should be banned from? Shouldn't we be holding people legally and socially accountable for such decisions? If taking the decision to drink and drive ends up as murder in many states, why not the decision to willingly bring a gun to a riot? The human brain is still capable of making some rationale decisions, yes? Let emotion come out. Let people protest and march. Let the legal system clean up the mess. But guns in the mix?
Context time. I am an American living in Poland. For the past four or five years, there have been many public demonstrations—marches, protests, sit-ins, and otherwise—against the government. Despite that literally hundreds of thousands of people have been on the streets. Despite that there have been public clashes, left vs. right. Despite the existence of nationalist and minority militant groups. Despite that vandalism has occurred. Nobody has been shot. Nobody has even been arrested for having a gun in public that I have seen in the news. To be clear, it's legal to own a gun in Poland. Apply for the right permit. Go through the process. Meet reasonable conditions (psychology check, criminal check, physical check). And voila, you are allowed to own a gun. Despite this, extremely few people do. They don't feel the need. Oh, and look, the death rate by guns is significantly lower than the US. It's simply a different culture.
And that is where America is failing: culture. Wake up. This isn't the wild west any more. John Wayne does not walk the streets. Society today is a few degrees more civilized than when “The British are coming! The British are coming!”. Americans kill exponentially more Americans than any “enemy” hiding behind a bush. The Rittenhouse situation is, in fact, the "enemy" requiring elimination.
Where precisely is American culture failing? There are a few places. The first is the “business model”. It's egregious that lobbying is part of politics. Guns show why. We separate church and state, why not business and state? Keep the gun lobby begging at the door like everyone else. The second place is parenting. What parent raises their child to think that driving X hours to the next state with an assault rifle to join a riot is a good idea? Regardless my son's political views, I would do everything to convince him not to go. Rittenhouse's mom and dad need to be called out for their failure. And third is social and legal expectation. It's an extreme minority in Poland who believe that people should be allowed to openly carry guns in public without restrictions. Everyone else is educated, cultured—smart—enough to understand the relationship between guns and people. They don't mix! How can you hope to have a stable, peaceful society with guns floating freely? Humans have emotions. We do stupid things. Best to limit the stupidity as much as possible with laws, and let social expectation follow.
So to go back to the beginning; I won't be surprised if Rittenhouse is found not-guilty of murder. Personally, I don't know if he is guilty or not of intentional murder. But what I do know is that he is guilty of a bad decision to bring a gun to a riot, and for that should be punished. Another way of looking at this is, do we want the likes of Rittenhouse walking in society—a person who believes they can show up at any public disturbance with a semi-auto? No. It's dangerous to him and others around him. To Rittenhouse's parents, raise a smarter son. Raise a son to respect human life, regardless of which side of the political spectrum that life may be. Raise a son to have a brain, to think twice before deciding to join such a riot, let alone bring a gun. “He wanted to do right. He wanted to help.” Sorry, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and in this case Rittenhouse's intentions ended up with two dead bodies that would still be alive had he made the right decision. I am not the smartest brick in the wall, but I'm smart enough to know bringing a gun to such an emotionally tense situation leads to the potential for death at my own hands—accidental, intentional, or otherwise, my own, others, or both. It's not rocket science.
C'mon American government, it's high-high time to face your gun problem. Don't worry, there is no need to eliminate guns entirely. Like Europe, put stronger barriers in place to try to prevent certain situations from happening. Tighten restrictions on ownership and storage. Put stronger laws in place around guns in public. Hold people to higher degrees of accountability. Remove guns from the free market and put them under limited sale through restricted sales points. Limit the types of guns people can own. (Do people really need assault rifles for hunting or target practice?) Sane, healthy people without criminal records, i.e the majority of gun owners, could still own guns. The second amendment would still be in effect, just with more restrictions than it currently has—and it has some already. (Wanna a nuclear bomb? Not allowed...) But most importantly, people's loved ones would not die so easily in the hands of such extreme stupidity as Rittenhouse's.
Yes, this is a rant. It pisses me off that two families are dealing with an avoidable tragedy because of a dumbass kid, a dumbass kid who could potentially have been a smartass kid if his parents and the system had higher expectations...
*Updated Nov. 20. 2021 - Verdict is in. Not guilty on all charges. As, unfortunately, thought. If, for one moment, we accept the laws as they are (which the legal system and jury had to do for the trial), it seems prosecutors were too ambitious. Had they went with a couple of manslaughter charges plus the other, non-killing-related charges, it's more likely the trial would have ended with a conviction of some kind, and therefore a feeling of justice. Otherwise, it's absolutely crazy to me that Rittenhouse walks scot free despite that he clearly did something wrong. "Something" the key phrase, prosecutors were too greedy...