In both cases the perpetrators BROUGHT their guns to the people they wanted to shoot. In both cases when a scuffle ensued DIRECTLY AS A RESULT OF THE PRESENCE OF A GUN, they shot their weapons and killed unarmed people.
In both cases they used self defense as justification for their actions.
The plain reality here is that Rittenhouse and the men who shot Ahmaud Arbery are heroes among “2nd ammendment people” and the “MAGA Cult” (herein “gun advocates”). The lauding of these murderers reveals that gun advocates want guns not just for defending their homes, but for bringing the sphere of what’s considered home out to people whom they want to kill.
After Rittenhouse was acquitted, gun advocacy group Gun Owners of America raised money to replace Rittenhouse’s new AR15.
What a dangerous precident is set when one can kill people, claim self defense, have the courts exonerate you, and the public praise your actions.
I believe that many future Rittenhouses were radicalized the moment that verdict was read aloud, future like-minded terrorists who believe the state will protect vigilantism.
Why do gun fanatics love their guns so much? They are certainly hobbyists, they enjoy the camaraderie, they worship the 2nd amendment, among other reasons.
But foundationally there is one powerful unifying motivator: fear. They have been conditioned by FOX News and the rest of conservative dogma that there is an enemy set on destroying their values and murdering their family.
During the toilet paper shortage before the Covid lockdowns in March 2020, a gun-loving libertarian friend of mine asked me “Don’t you wish you had a gun now?”
I tilted my head and looked at him, confused. He and other conservatives were convinced that looting and riots would ensue from shortages and only a gun could save you. I was 100% confident that there would be no such riots, and even if there were, police, not a couple of neighbors with handguns, would keep my home safe (I was right).
This revealed the divide in fear: I am a gun owner, but I destroyed my gun and turned it into works of art because I am not afraid of an enemy coming for my family. Conservatives and gun owners deeply fear the spectre of a (non-existent) enemy. A fear so deep that they don’t notice it anymore, a fear fundamental.
No longer Satisfying
Just like junkies needing higher and higher doses to get their fix, the fear injected fantasy of shooting an intruder in one’s home is no longer enough to get gun junkies hard.
Even mass protests and some limited destruction of private property is enough to trigger fear among gun advocates in a big way. They now conflate the fear of a home invasion with the spectre of antifa and BLM rioters looting the corner store.
It’s stunning for me to hear from gun advocates that the alleged crimes committed by those fallen by Rittenhouse’s hand justified their execution.
In fact, what Rittenhouse did is the new fantasy: When you can’t use your gun in a home defense scenario, let’s bring your home out to the world of people whom you fear and open fire.
A step toward extremism
Say there was an “extremist scale”, where a “10” is ISIS type white Christians with AR15s beheading women who have premarital sex, and a zero is where we were before the advent of NRA activism some 40 years ago.
Then, we certainly went from a “1” to a “2” with that Rittenhouse verdict. In other words, expanding the boundaries of “home defense” for extremist gun owners is one step toward state sanctioned extremist violence. And the unifying applause for the verdict from white supremacists, Christians, GOP, MAGA cult, and those who committed the 1/6 coup attempt, reveals how real and present this step toward extremism is.
There is Hope
The one good news in this dreary tale is that there was another verdict in late 2021 that shows that the judiciary and the public disagree with the expansion of what’s considered “self defense”. The three men who chased down Ahmaud Arbery and shot him to death were each convicted of felony murder (among other charges) by a jury consisting of 11 white people.
This is a powerful, contrary voice that says no, fuck you, your desire to take your second amendment to the street is an abomination against American values and American values will put you in a prison for life if you commit such an abomination. I’m proud to add my voice to this chorus; I encourage you to do the same.
Don’t be fooled
Conservatives will always fall back on that ultimate argument: “I have the right to defend my home.” It’s difficult to reason with someone’s irrational fear that a firearm (not say, police) is needed to defend one’s home, and an assault rifle at that.
But if someone you know makes that argument, press them on their feelings about the Rittenhouse case. Then you’ll see whether your friend really wants to defend his home or bring vigilante justice to his enemies.
Anyone who says something to the effect of: “Maybe the Rittenhouse case will teach those rioters a lesson so they won’t come out and protest next time” is, in fact, defining terrorism: the use of violence to coerce people and change their behavior. These mild justifications for terrorism is taking our nation down the first steps of becoming an autocratic theocracy.
A Salve To A Rise In Extremism
Making a would-be moderate friend aware: “You may be praising Rittenhouse just because you love your guns and you want to give the liberal establishment a big ‘fuck you’; but in fact, praising him is encouraging future terrorism and promoting religious extremism in the US.”
Educate an evangelical friend who is sympathetic to these killers that an expansion of the concept of “home defense” to include vigilantes on the street is both dangerous and a detrimental course white men with guns doing whatever they want.
No matter what, don’t buy the argument that gun rights are about home defense. It is about a war on their percieved enemies, and that should be what we truly fear.