Lessons Learned From The Rittenhouse Situation

Mark Hertzberg/Pool Photo via AP

Kyle Rittenhouse did nothing wrong.

I’m going to start by saying this here and now, lest there be any confusion. While he made some decisions I might question later on here, I don’t think that he was necessarily wrong for making those decisions. I have the benefit of hindsight at work here, and I’m not interested in second-guessing him.

However, I do think that cases like his give us all a great opportunity to learn, so that’s what I did.

Here are a few of my takeaways from his case.

Going To Risky Places Is Contraindicated

We all know that walking around in the seedy, crime-ridden part of town is a bad idea. We tend to avoid these places like the plague if at all possible.

However, some of us will also look at those who line up outside of buildings with AR-15s during a riot as if they’re doing a wonderful thing. I sure as hell do. And yet, they’ve put themselves in a dangerous situation by being in a dangerous place.

I’m not saying they shouldn’t do so, especially if it’s their business. What I do want to say, though, is that you have to be prepared for any potential fallout from having done so.

As we saw during Rittenhouse’s prosecution, the fact that he was there and armed was used against him. It would be nice to believe that it would never happen again, that attorneys learned their lesson, but don’t count on it.

If you’re going to do something like that, be aware of what can happen.

For many, that is something we’d rather not go through, so staying home and making sure you can continue being there for your family–how long did Rittenhouse remain in jail again?–may well be the smarter decision.


The Law May Not Protect You

This one is really all on me.

I grew up in a household with a police officer dad. I grew up with a respect for the law that isn’t likely to go away anytime soon. Now, I get civil disobedience and think there’s definitely a time and place for that sort of thing, but for the most part I believe you follow the laws and work to change the bad ones.

Part of that respect, though, is the belief that the law will protect you as well. We see how that worked out.

Kyle Rittenhouse did what the law required, up to and including attempting to retreat from danger. This is all stuff that should have served to prevent him from getting prosecuted. As we all know, it didn’t.

While justice was ultimately served, it may well have gone a different direction and we all know it.

Prosecutors don’t get to make their name by declining to prosecute people. Not usually, anyway. A district attorney looking to appear tough to his supporters may well go after anyone, and as we saw, they’ll try and use anything they can against them.

As a result, I’ve started thinking things through a bit more than I might otherwise have. For example, my wife saw a sign that said, “No Trespassing: We’re Tired Of Hiding The Bodies.” She thought it was funny and talked about getting it.

It was funny. However, I can also see a prosecutor trying to use that to justify locking me up for murder because I had to shoot someone on my property. “See,” he’d tell the jury, “he was itching to kill someone. He thought taking human life was a joke!”

So no, we aren’t getting it.

But I’m also not getting a warm sense of security from the same legal system that’s supposed to protect the innocent and punish the guilty. After all, what transpired with Rittenhouse was recorded from about 6,000 different angles. It was clear as day, and yet he still faced prosecution. What hope can I really have that it wouldn’t happen to me, too?


Get Self-Defense Insurance

Kyle Rittenhouse’s legal defense was expensive. He had a ton of donations, sure, but if you’re involved in a self-defense case, can you guarantee that the masses will flock to pay your attorney fees?

I wouldn’t bet on it.

As such, find yourself some good self-defense insurance. Like many other insurances, you may never need it. However, you’re paying for the peace of mind that if you do, you have it and you’re not on the hook for a massive bill when everything is said and done.

No, you shouldn’t need it, but as we’ve already discussed, that may be more up to a prosecutor looking for fame than up to you.

We carry a firearm not because we’re frightened, but because we believe it’s better to hope for the best and prepare for the worst than just hope. Having self-defense insurance is no different.

Plus, most such insurance programs also come with access to some decent training, which will also benefit you a great deal, making this an even better deal.


So those are a few of my lessons learned. What are some of yours?