Walking Probable Cause

How did Kyle know that his life was in danger? Easy. He carried the danger he needed to be protected from in his own two hands.

Michael Nabert
GEN
Published in
6 min readNov 19, 2021

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Photo by Bexar Arms on Unsplash

An astounding thing took place in the very public trial of Kyle Rittenhouse. The antics of a judge who made absolutely no effort to appear impartial, refused to allow people gunned down in the street to be referred to as victims, and otherwise seemed to forget that he wasn’t the defence attorney are enough to merit a few articles all on their own, but that’s not where I’m going today. Rittenhouse’s testimony shows us that the evolution of the “good guy with a gun” fantasy inherent to US gun culture has finally evolved its concept of self-defence into a startling new paradigm.

What the defence rests on is the idea that if I introduce danger into a situation, I am then justified in killing unarmed strangers around me to protect myself from the danger that I brought with me.

We’re talking of course about the teenager’s gun, a gun that he wasn't legally entitled to carry in the place he was carrying it, and which caused two fatalities before the night was out. How did Kyle know that his life was in danger? Easy. He carried the danger he needed to be protected from in his own two hands, attached to his body with a strap.

Asked how his shooting of Joseph Rosenbaum, an unarmed man, could be justified as self-defence, Rittenhouse said “If I would have let Mr Rosenbaum take my firearm from me, he would have used it and killed me with it and probably killed more people.”

So Kyle considered a completely unarmed stranger a lethal threat because of the presence of the gun that he himself had brought into the situation.

We may note that when the prosecutor repeatedly asked the defendant whether one of his victims might have considered himself to be threatened when Rittenhouse pointed his weapon at him, he was incredibly evasive, repeatedly failing to directly answer the question. We cannot claim to know with certainty what other people are thinking or what the intentions of strangers are, but Rittenhouse’s assertions about what would have happened if he hadn’t killed Rosenbaum were permitted to stand in court. Another double standard, but not the most problematic…

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Michael Nabert
GEN
Writer for

Researching a road map from our imperilled world into one with a livable future with as much good humour as I can muster along the way.