KENOSHA — The Wisconsin chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots networks, released the following statements on the jury’s verdict finding Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty on charges of the first degree murder of 26-year-old Anthony Huber and 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum, and first degree attempted murder of Gaige Grosskreutz. On Monday, the judge dismissed charges of carrying a firearm illegally as a minor due to an existing loophole in state law that allows minors to carry firearms over a certain barrel length.
“It’s an indictment of our criminal justice system that a teenager could illegally obtain a gun, travel across state lines to a protest he had nothing to do with, shoot and kill two participants, and face no consequences,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “This is the society that the NRA wants, one where anyone can have a gun anywhere with no questions asked, and where people feel emboldened to shoot anyone over the slightest provocation without question or fear of consequences. We don’t have to live this way, we certainly don’t have to die this way, and we will keep fighting for a country free from gun violence.”
“This is a miscarriage of justice. A white teenager got his hands on a gun, showed up to a protest for Black lives, and two people were killed and one was wounded and likely traumatized — and no one was held accountable,” said Lindsey Buscher, a volunteer with Moms Demand Action in Wisconsin. “Allowing this type of vigilantism, which has increasingly followed a pattern of white gunmen targeting communities of color and their allies, to continue going unchecked and without consequence is dangerous and must end. Far too often, victims and survivors don’t get the justice they deserve, and we’ll keep fighting until our system works for the people it was designed to protect.”
The judge in the trial previously ruled that the individuals who were shot and killed by the defendant could not be described as ‘victims’, but could be called ‘rioters’ and ‘looters.’ The ruling was criticized by Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger as an effort to disparage one of the protesters who was shot and killed as “a bad guy who deserved to die.” Two individuals were shot and killed and one individual was wounded while taking part in demonstrations for racial equity in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in August 2020. The shooter was among loosely organized militia groups that patrolled Kenosha, Wisconsin, openly carrying guns in direct response to the protest of yet another police shooting.
This tragedy only further demonstrates the dangers of allowing firearms everywhere, especially at demonstrations. Open carry during demonstrations can be dangerous and life threatening. According to a report from Everytown for Gun Safety and the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), the presence of armed groups and individuals, like those found in Kenosha in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, are nearly six times as likely to turn violent or destructive compared to unarmed demonstrations. The report also found that while armed demonstrations accounted for less than 2% of the total number of demonstrations in the United States, they comprised nearly 10% of all violent or destructive demonstrations.