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Editorial: Trials underscore the tragic results when civilian confrontations include guns

Editorial: Trials underscore the tragic results when civilian confrontations include guns

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Rittenhouse on trial

Kyle Rittenhouse looks back as Susan Hughes, the great aunt of Anthony Huber, enters the courtroom during his trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Friday. Anthony Huber was one of two men who Rittenhouse killed on Aug. 25, 2020.

(Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News via AP, Pool)

Two major trials, one in Wisconsin and the other in Georgia, provide graphic depictions of what happens when self-righteous gun owners go on the offensive during confrontations with others. Videos in those trials serve an important purpose to remind Americans of the growing lethality on the streets when more guns are present, especially when civilians take it upon themselves to carry out policing functions. Disputes that might otherwise be resolved with perhaps a loud exchange of words or some flying fists instead end with a hail of bullets and death.

The surest way to ensure more tragic results like these is to keep loosening gun restrictions. Missouri’s gun laws have become the focus of national attention not just because of the steady relaxation in ownership and stand-your-ground legislation since 2007 but also because of a new law blocking local law enforcers from enforcing any federal gun laws deemed to interfere with Second Amendment rights. Even conservatives think the law goes too far and undermines the ability of police to control gun crime.

A lot of Missourians cheered the bill for effectively telling the federal government “to go mind their own business and stay away from our guns,” Butler County prosecutor Kacey Proctor said on the CBS program “60 Minutes” on Sunday. Making it more difficult for local law enforcers to join forces with federal authorities to pursue armed criminals is no way to make city streets safer. Two high-profile, ongoing cases underscore why the steady loosening of gun laws yields predictably tragic results.

Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man, was running through a suburban neighborhood in Brunswick, Georgia, in 2020 when three armed white men took it upon themselves to pursue him, assuming he was up to no good. Arbery resisted their attempt to forcibly detain him, and now he’s dead.

In Kenosha, Wisconsin, teenager Kyle Rittenhouse was not legally authorized to possess a gun. He brought one anyway to defend a car dealership from Black Lives Matter rioters in August 2020. Rittenhouse wound up in a confrontation with some protesters. Videos show no indication that Rittenhouse was in mortal danger, but he fired his gun anyway, killing two and wounding a third (who also drew a handgun after Rittenhouse fired his).

The likelihood of all involved leaving those scenes alive would have been greatly enhanced had guns not entered the picture. The only people killed during the Kenosha rioting were those Rittenhouse shot.

Since 2007, Missouri’s Legislature has steadily eroded permitting requirements and concealed-carry restrictions. People now have all kinds of legal excuses to kill each other by asserting castle-doctrine and stand-your-ground authority. More guns are in more hands than ever before. And, predictably, the death rate from guns was 1.5 times higher in 2019 than it was in 2007, The Kansas City Star reports.

Does no one in Jefferson City see what’s wrong with this picture?

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