Is Rittenhouse Acquittal The Beginning Of A Bloody New Era Of Gun Violence?
Reprinted with permission from DCReport
Our nation's Supreme Court with three NRA-endorsed justices could unleash an army of Kyle Rittenhouse-wannabees on our nation's streets in a decision about who can be armed that can be expected next summer.
The Supreme Court heard arguments earlier this month in a case brought by the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association. The NRA affiliate and two men who couldn't get gun permits in New York sued.
"I don't think people really understand the gravity of this case," said Kris Brown, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. "It would upend the very framework of the country's public safety laws."
Rittenhouse, now 18, was acquitted Friday by a Wisconsin jury of homicide and other charges. Rittenhouse was 17 in August 2020 when he killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz during civil unrest in Kenosha after the police shooting of a Black man who was left paralyzed.
Rittenhouse, who took an AR-15-style rifle that a friend had bought him to the demonstrations, claimed self defense. Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed a charge of illegal possession of the rifle before the jury began its deliberations.
"This is the world we could live in if the court decides that the Constitution entitles virtually anyone to carry guns virtually anywhere, to shoot people when they deem it necessary for self-defense," said Jonathan Lowy, Brady chief counsel.
In Wisconsin, there is no duty to retreat before using deadly force.
Federal and state courts have generally used a two-part test in more than 1,000 gun cases since a landmark Supreme Court case in 2008. Judges look at whether the activity is protected by the Second Amendment and then scrutinize it. Judges have used this test to reject most gun rights claims.
But the Supreme Court could throw out this test.
"The big question is whether the justices will announce a new test for the constitutionality of gun laws going forward," said Duke law professor Joseph Blocher.
During oral arguments in the New York case, most of the justices appeared skeptical of the New York law which limits who can carry a gun in public.
Chief Justice John Roberts asked if someone would have a greater need for self defense in a higher-density area.
New York is one of eight states that limit who can carry a gun in public. The others are California, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island.
New York's Sullivan Act, named after Tammany Hall politician Timothy Sullivan, was passed in 1911 after the attempted assassination of a mayor and the murder of novelist David Graham Phillips.
New York also has the second-lowest rate of deaths from gun violence in our nation. In 2019, about four people per 100,000 died from gun violence in New York. Wisconsin, which ranked 12th, had a death rate more than twice as high.