I was enraged at the Kyle Rittenhouse acquittal on all counts. Then, I pled kyrie eleison. There were questions about the fairness of the trial, decisions of the judge and the make-up of the jury. Some say the prosecution’s strategy was misdirected. The jury took their time in considering the complicated instructions and evidence. Yet, I have difficulty believing the verdict was just. Rage at injustice, kyrie eleison in plea.

The two dead victims were unarmed. Clearly. Did they pay attention to Kyle and approach him in a threatening manner? In some ways, or so it appears. I would argue that Rittenhouse was a “provocateur”, and because he was carrying and pointing an AR-15, he instigated threatening responses, provoking responses. Consider, if he went to provide first aid because he was a “trained EMT”, I would suggest no one would have payed attention to him, but would have welcomed his compassion for any of the wounded. Instead, he arrived with a military style weapon. The outcome was a tragedy. He pulled the trigger unleashing “full metal jacket” rounds into three people, two of whom were unarmed. Then consider he was underage, traveled from out of state, and he had a friend “straw purchase” the weapon for him.

After the verdict was announced, I listened to two university law professors, one of whom was a former U.S. Attorney, another who was an attorney from New York, and another a former Justice Department Attorney. They brought up issues of conceal and carry, open carry, stand your ground, the validity of the Second Amendment, common sense gun laws, the threat to public safety, the need for accountability, pleading self defense as the default justification for any gun response, Kyle as being the “provocateur”, concern about where this verdict leads, and the rise of vigilantism. Joyce Vance, Professor at the University of Alabama, expressed concern about what we will learn from this verdict. A clergy said she was not surprised, calling for peace. She related an incident where people brought military style weapons to a school. She asked, “When do Second Amendment rights supersede the First Amendment right to free expression?” Rep. Matt Gaetz and other Representatives say Kyle needs to be given a job as a Congressional Intern! What? The LATIMES commented that the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers are licking their chops. Commentators spoke of “open season” on protestors, “reactionary white men” and “precedent” setting decisions. Significantly, Kyle Rittenhouse and the shooter of Antuan Arbery are white men. We must ask if there is a relationship between white shooters and white supremacy. White Supremists are dancing, locking and loading!

A pronouncement from Isaiah seems appropriate: “Draw near, O nations, to hear; O peoples, give heed! . . . . For the Lord is enraged against all nations . . . . he has doomed them, has given them over for slaughter.” (Isaiah 34:1-2) Gun slaughter in America is rampant. Injustice widens the gate of permissiveness. How can one not be enraged! Justice was squelched and the judge and jury gave Rittenhouse a pass. It is clear that our nation needs to deepen its gun conversation and pass effective gun safety laws. Vigilantism is becoming common-place police action, with stand your ground, open carry without permits, incomplete background checks with no checks on private and gun show sales, all leading to a further poisoning of the Second Amendment. We need to pass common sense gun laws to counter free-wheeling, anytime, anywhere permissiveness. Call it a “come to Jesus/Isaiah moment” for gun laws. The alternative is more tragedy leading to more rage, more grief within our nation and families. Protests and demonstrations become “open season” occasions. Kyrie eleison!

In Peaceful Rage, in Kyrie Eleison Plea,

Ron Letnes (Rev. Dr.)