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