Kyle Rittenhouse

If you haven’t heard of the Kyle Rittenhouse case, you’ve probably been living under a rock. There are a few things gun owners can learn from the case. Yes, Rittenhouse was ultimately found not guilty by a jury of his peers, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t lessons to learn.

What Can Gun Owners Learn from Kyle Rittenhouse?

Rule 1: Do Not Talk to the Media

Two hours before he was attacked and given no choice but to use deadly force to defend his life, Kyle Rittenhouse was talking to the media. There are pictures of Microphoneshim that he posed for along with the videotaped interviews. No, he could not have predicted how the night would end, but the mainstream media is typically not on your side in a self-defense situation. The media’s job is to sensationalize events and grab viewership by whatever means necessary. The footage obtained from the media was used against Rittenhouse during the trial in an attempt to prove the “provocation” charge that he never should have been there and went looking for a fight.

Rule 2: Do Not Go Stupid Places

This is something I’ve written countless times. Use common sense. Don’t behave in stupid ways or go to risky places. In Kyle Rittenhouse’s case, it was an issue of going to a stupid place: the epicenter of violent riots. Was his heart in the right place? Yes, it appears his intentions were pure and he wanted to help. However, he went to a place where he and others knew violence was occurring. It has been said by some gun owners and industry people that because he shouldn’t have been there, the incident was somehow his fault, which is a matter of opinion. Once he was there, his self-defense was found to be justified by the court system, but could he have avoided it all if he’d never gone there in the first place? That possibility is very real.

Rule 3: Get Proper Training

TrainingIf you watch the videos of Rittenhouse during the attacks, it is clear he has some training. His trigger discipline is solid even while he’s being chased and assaulted. At all times he was photographed throughout the evening, he maintained awareness. In addition, on video, he did keep control of the muzzle of his AR-15. Despite being chased, kicked, beaten and bludgeoned over the head with a skateboard, you could definitely argue that he handled the rifle well. It is not known what training he had, but he’d clearly put some sort of time into running the rifle properly. Training is your friend.

Rule 4: Use Your Command Voice

A piece of evidence utilized by both sides in the trial was Rittenhouse yelling “Friendly! Friendly! Friendly!” as he attempted to outrun his attackers. It’s understood in the self-defense training community that use of your command voice is important partly because witnesses will notice what you yell. Statements like the law enforcement officermade during the Jacob Blake shooting—yelling “Drop the knife!”—mattered not only because they were ordering Blake to drop the knife, but also because witnesses were aware who the aggressor was (spoiler alert: it was Blake). In Rittenhouse’s case, it highlighted the fact that he meant no harm and was, in fact, the victim.

Rule 5: Your Clothing Matters

After Rittenhouse first made bail, he was photographed wearing a “Free as F***” shirt in a bar. rittenhouse tshirtWhen it was brought up in the trial, it was pointed out that his former attorney—one he fired after the shirt incident—had set it up as a photo op for some unknown reason.

Your clothing matters. What you wear matters. There are many cool gun shirts out there, and they can hinder you. Certain types of shirts can be used by the prosecution as part of mens rea, a Latin term that translates to “guilty mind.” What this means is what’s written on your shirt or on a bumper sticker on your vehicle can be used against you in a court of law to show you were looking for a fight. As a gun owner, it is your responsibility to make necessary adjustments to things like how you dress in order to fit with the self-defense lifestyle and mindset.

Enjoying this content? Find out how you can get more sent straight to your inbox.

Rule 6: Social Media Matters (and the Internet Is Forever)

Social MediaThis isn’t the first time social media has played a part in a criminal case, but it might be the most prominent. Not only was Gaige Grosskreutz’s social media presence used against him, but so was Rittenhouse’s. A TikTok account titled “fourdoorsmorewhores” was brought up in court as belonging to Rittenhouse. The TikTok handle is a reference to a years-old phrase and is not unique to this one 17-year-old boy, but it was still a factor in court.

What you post should be done responsibly and with forethought to what you’re depicting. Does the picture show guns being safely handled, or does it make it clear you think aiming a gun at a random person is acceptable? Are you pictured with a handgun in one hand and a beer in the other? Aside from the fact that gun safety should always be first and foremost in your mind, you also need to be smart about your social media. Remember, the internet is forever. Post photos, memes, and comments with the expectation they could one day be read or shown in open court.

Rule 7: Load Your Carry Gun with Factory Defensive Ammunition

When Rittenhouse defended himself against a deadly assault from multiple attackers, his AR-15 was loaded with full metal jacket (FMJ) ammunition. This was used in court by the prosecution to say he was being irresponsible and carrying ammunition that was somehow more dangerous. FMJ is designed as a target load and does not expand upon impact, meaning it can and will over-penetrate targets

Factory defensive ammunition is recommended by experts as the go-to for your carry gun. Defensive loads are meant for self-defense purposes and created to expand and slow down on impact, simultaneously stopping the threat to your life more quickly and preventing over-penetration. The reason factory loads are suggested is they have provable loading methods with the necessary data attached to them by the manufacturer. Using handloads is never suggested and could be used by the prosecution to claim you were purposefully trying to create “deadlier” or “unreliable” ammunition.

Rule 8: Get Legal Defense for Self Defense

This is reality: you need some sort of Legal Defense for Self Defense coverage. USLS logo 300x300 1A criminal case can cost millions of dollars. Lack of coverage is how people lose everything—homes, cars, and whatever belongings can be sold to pay for an attorney—and it happens more often than you think. You could win the criminal case but end up bankrupt and homeless. Rittenhouse’s mother asked repeatedly for donations to cover his trial, and in her plea during the trial, stated the current guesstimate of November’s court costs stands at $100,000. That amount does not include any of the other preparatory work the attorneys have done, her own lost wages, and numerous other expenses.

Aside from the financial aspect, it’s helpful to have an attorney ready and waiting if you need them. Otherwise, you’re faced with a family member Googling criminal defense attorneys and have no idea what kind of representation you’ll end up with.

Rule 9: Know Local Gun Laws

During the trial, Rittenhouse took the stand in his own defense. Fortunately, it worked in his benefit; it came out later that they’d held mock trials with and without his testimony and decided it was a good idea for him to take the stand. Something noteworthy during Rittenhouse’s cross-examination by the prosecution was that he appeared to have a better grasp of gun laws than the assistant district attorneys.

You must know your local gun laws, not only where you live but also anywhere you intend to travel with guns. Claiming ignorance of the law is not a valid defense. And in extreme cases like the Rittenhouse trial, your personal knowledge of firearms and self-defense law might play a role.

Rule 10: Understand Your Life Is Forever Changed

Yes, Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty of all counts by a jury. If you watched the reading of the verdict, he began to cry as they repeatedly announced “not guilty” for each count; by the fifth count, he had collapsed in tears. Technically he is a free young man, but his life is permanently altered. He is only 18 and has become a notorious figure in the mainstream media, with a very recognizable face and name. Even if he attempts to stay off the media’s radar and eventually changes his name, his life as he knew it is over. According to his attorneys, he cannot sleep, he has severe PTSD, and he struggles daily, all of which is understandable given the circumstances.

If you end up having no choice but to use deadly force, your life is going to be changed. You are worth defending, as are your loved ones, but don’t for a moment believe it won’t affect your life after the fact. Choosing to carry a gun for self-defense is a significant responsibility and should involve training and careful thought, including consideration of the mental aspects of employing deadly force.


Your Protection Starts Here!

Become a part of the nation’s best Legal Defense for Self Defense® Program and get armed, educated, and prepared today.

The information provided in this publication is intended to provide general information to individuals and is not legal advice. The information included in this publication may not be quoted or referred to in any other publication without the prior written consent of U.S. LawShield, to be given or withheld at our discretion. The information is not a substitute for, and does not replace the advice or representation of a licensed attorney. We strive to ensure the information included in this publication is accurate and current, however, no claim is made to the accuracy of the information and we are not responsible for any consequences that may result from the use of information in this publication. The use of this publication does not create an attorney-client relationship between U.S. LawShield, any independent program attorney, and any individual.