Prosecutors Drop Gun Possession Charge In Rittenhouse Trial

Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News via AP, Pool

One final surprise in Kenosha before the closing arguments begin in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial; the count of illegal gun possession was dropped by prosecutors on Monday morning, meaning the state cannot argue that Rittenhouse committed a misdemeanor crime by possessing an AR-15 on the night of August 25th, 2020.


There was a lot of discussion about the charge last week, as defense attorneys argued that the Wisconsin law in question was worded in such a way Rittenhouse was not in violation. After several hours of back-and-forth between prosecutors and defense attorneys, Judge Bruce Schroeder took the matter under advisement, but ruled on Monday that the misdemeanor charge had to go.

The AR-15-style rifle Rittenhouse used to fatally shoot two men and injure a third is 35 inches long with a barrel length of 16 inches. Under defense questioning, a Kenosha police detective said he believed the Smith & Wesson M & P 15 was standard size.

The judge’s decision stunned prosecutors, who argued his interpretation of the law does not make sense. Under the judge’s interpretation, it would be illegal for a 17-year-old to carry brass knuckles in Wisconsin but permissible to carry a semi-automatic rifle.

“There’s no ambiguity,” assistant district attorney James Kraus told the judge Friday. “It is very clear that (17-year olds) are not to possess dangerous weapons.”

Kraus was simply wrong about the ambiguity in the statute. As long as the rifle in question wasn’t a short barreled rifle, it would appear that Rittenhouse was, in fact, legally eligible to carry the firearm that night. Given the vagueness of the statute and the lack of evidence that the prosecution offered, I think Schroeder made the right call here.


Since prosecutors can no longer argue that Rittenhouse was violating curfew (that charge was dismissed earlier in the trial) and that he was illegally carrying a gun, the main question before the jurors is whether or not Kyle Rittenhouse was acting in self-defense when he shot Joseph Rosenbaum, Anthony Huber, and Gaige Grosskreutz. The “strength” of the prosecution’s case, if you want to call it that, is a fuzzy photo that they claim shows Rittenhouse pointing a gun at another protester, Joshua Zaminsky, moments before Rosenbaum begins chasing Rittenhouse with Zaminsky firing a shot in the air from behind the teen.

Prosecutors argue that it was Rittenhouse who actually provoked Rosenbaum, despite testimony from eyewitnesses who said that Rosenbaum had been acting erratically and aggressively throughout the evening, while Rittenhouse was seen trying to de-escalate tense situations and offering first aid to those who needed it.

Both the state and Rittenhouse’s attorneys will have 2 1/2 hours to make their closing arguments, and the defense has already stated that it will be objecting to the use of that pixelated image when prosecutors bring it up today. Judge Schroeder told both sides that he wouldn’t disallow any use of the picture, but he also left the specifics unresolved, so we could see some more heated exchanges from the two sides before the jury begins its deliberations. We’ll have more coverage here at Bearing Arms throughout the day, and be sure to follow my colleagues at for additional reporting and analysis.


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