“I’d rather be judged by 12 than carried out by six.” Most gun owners have heard that nugget of homicidal wisdom, often from the person who sold them their guns. In other words: Better to attend your own trial by jury for killing someone than your own funeral for hesitating and being killed instead.
The final count on Tuesday night in Kenosha, Wisconsin, was 12 and 12: a dozen pallbearers for two homicide victims, and 12 yet-to-be-impaneled jurors for Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old who allegedly shot them with his AR-15-style rifle. The footage of their killings is grainy and sickening. It shows, amid general mayhem and gunfire, a man who appears to shoot another with a rifle, then say into a cellphone, “I just killed somebody.” Later that same man is pursued by a mob down the center of a street. They catch up with him, he falls to the ground, and one strikes him with a skateboard. From a supine position the gunman shoots two people, one fatally. The other, blasted in the right arm, had been running at the killer with a pistol drawn.
I have seen many videos like this, and not long ago I profiled John Correia, a YouTube gun-world celebrity who has seen more videos of gun violence than perhaps any other human being who has ever lived. On YouTube and other social media, the gun channels are filled with real-life videos of violence—think Cops, with all the boring parts edited out and most of the violent parts unblurred. I could say that these scenes never cease to sicken, but the truth is that one gets used to them after a while. Rittenhouse, who was arrested yesterday, was reportedly a gun enthusiast and active on social media in support of Blue Lives Matter. I don’t know whether Rittenhouse spent his free time watching people pulling guns on one another, but I know from experience that these videos are hugely popular in the gun world that he was part of, and if you watch one, you probably watch hours of them.