No, Rittenhouse Verdict Doesn't Demand Change In Gun Laws

AP Photo/Morgan Lee

The trial of Kyle Rittenhouse is over, at least as far as the courts are concerned. As for the court of public opinion goes, though, the young man is still waiting for closing arguments.

All over the internet, people are still debating the validity of his actions. They’re also adding a fair amount of BS to the discussion.

Take this piece over at The Hill:

After last week’s verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial in Kenosha, Wis., can’t we all agree on this: There’s not one system of justice in America. There are two. One for white people; one for Black.

No, we can’t. I’ll get into this in a little bit, but no. If there are two systems, it’s not divided quite that way.

If you’re a white man, you can commit murder and get away with it — as long as you call yourself a vigilante and claim you acted in “self-defense.” But don’t try it if you’re a Black man. Anthony Kennedy, a Kenosha alderman who’s also Black and an Army veteran, told the New York Times after the verdict that if he’d done the same thing, “My ass would’ve been dead on the street. I wouldn’t have been arrested.”

We saw a similar charade play out in 2012 in Sanford, Fla., with the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Walking from a nearby 7-Eleven with a bag of Skittles, Martin was accosted and killed by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. After Zimmerman’s defense attorneys entered a claim of acting in self-defense — his gun against a bag of Skittles? — a jury found Zimmerman not guilty of second degree murder and manslaughter.

The Rittenhouse case is Trayvon Martin redux — but far worse. Only in America could a man rush into a street protest with a semi-automatic rifle, shoot and kill two people, gravely injure a third, and then paint himself as a victim and get away with it.

Wow. I’m impressed. Who would have thought someone could get so much wrong in just three paragraphs? It’s really quite awesome to behold, actually.

First, let’s get into comparisons with Trayvon Martin. Yes, there are similarities, but not in the way the author believes. George Zimmerman’s life wasn’t in danger from Martin’s Skittles–on that, we agree. Where we depart is that I recognize that Martin wasn’t innocent. While Skittles don’t represent a threat to anyone except maybe diabetics, slamming a man’s head down on a concrete sidewalk sure as hell is a threat.

Additionally, Rittenhouse didn’t “rush” into a street protest. He and others stood outside of a business so it wouldn’t be looted and burned. The only rushing that took place was Rittenhouse rushing to get away from the mob that included someone who had threatened his life earlier. As the jury determined, he acted in self-defense.

Oh, but he was white. Had he been a black man, things would have been different, right? That’s what we keep hearing.

However, the media hasn’t done a lot of talking about Andrew Coffee. Coffee, a black man, was also was found not guilty of murder on the same day Rittenhouse was. And while there are differences in the case–there always are–Coffee’s case wasn’t nearly as clearcut as Rittenhouse’s.

A Gifford man who claimed he was defending himself and his girlfriend when he fired shots at deputies during an early-morning raid in 2017 was acquitted Friday of charges that carried a life prison term.

A jury found Andrew “A.J.” Coffee IV, 27, not guilty of second-degree felony murder, three counts of attempted first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer by discharging a firearm and one count of shooting or throwing a deadly missile.

In a separate proceeding Friday, the same jury convicted Coffee IV of one count of possession of a firearm by a felon.

That’s right, a convicted felon in possession of an illegal firearm shot at police executing a raid and he was found not guilty because the jury believed he had a reasonable fear for his life.

To hear many argue, Coffee simply doesn’t exist. His case couldn’t have gone the way it did because he’s black.

But it did.

And he was shooting at police officers while being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. He wasn’t some clean-cut kid from the suburbs who’d been cleaning up graffiti earlier in the day and was then chased by a mob and assaulted to some degree before each discharge of his firearm. This is a felon shooting at cops.

I’m sorry, but Coffee’s verdict invalidates claims that a black man would automatically be convicted or killed outright.

Folks are entitled to their own opinions. They’re not entitled to their own facts, though, and the fact that Coffee was acquitted of murder charges as well disproves any claims that being black suddenly means you not only won’t be acquitted but likely won’t even survive.

Nov 26, 2021 10:30 AM ET