New Poll: Lowest Ever Support for Semi-Auto Ban

This article originally appeared on the Second Amendment Foundation website here.

Amid the renewed clamor by anti-gunners for a ban on so-called “assault weapons,” the Second Amendment Foundation today pointed to a new Quinnipiac University poll showing public support for such a ban to be at an all-time low.

Support for a ban has fallen to 50 percent, while 45 percent oppose it, and according to the survey, “This is the lowest level of support among registered voters for a nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons since February 2013 when the question was first asked by the Quinnipiac University Poll.” Four years ago, 67 percent supported a ban and 29 percent opposed the idea.

SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb said this is clear evidence the public is waking up to the reality that gun bans are not the answer to violent crime.

“Semiautomatic rifles have been around for more than a century,” Gottlieb noted, “and the popular AR-type rifles have been owned by private citizens for at least 60 years. Their use in crime is statistically minimal, so to blame their availability and demonize their technology is a false flag that borders on fraud.

“Increasing numbers of people realize there is far more to this dilemma than firearms,” he added. “For example, the same Quinnipiac poll shows a 40 percent plurality of voters think the real problem is rooted in mental health issues, more than twice the 19 percent who think the availability of firearms is at the core of the current crime spike.

“And don’t overlook political bias,” Gottlieb added. “Quinnipiac found that Democrats by a 91-8 margin want stricter gun laws, while Republicans by a 64-32 percent margin oppose stricter laws. Party affiliation clearly is a factor in whether one is guided by a knee-jerk dislike for firearms, or by common sense and rational analysis.

“The annual FBI Uniform Crime Report has consistently shown that rifles of any kind are involved in a fraction of all homicides in any given year,” he said. “Only 2 to 4 percent of all murders are committed with rifles, so this push to demonize and ban an entire class of rifles is not simply wrong, it borders on being delusional, and it is certainly dishonest.”

Why Bother Joining the LSA?

“Why should I bother joining the LSA? I get the newsletter and the legislative alerts just by joining the mailing list.” This was the response I recently received from a close friend when I asked him why he never renewed his membership.

It is important to recognize that the leadership of the LSA is composed of volunteers with their own lives and, more importantly, their own careers. The President of the LSA is a practicing attorney, the Vice-President is a small business owner as is the the Secretary, and the Treasurer is a scientist with a lot of direct reports. All of the 15 Directors of the Corporation have careers. None are retired.

We do what we can, but there is never enough time. Now consider, if everyone on the LSA’s mailing list committed to paying the $15 per year to be a member of the LSA and renewing that membership every year, then the LSA could hire a staff person to take over much of the day-to-day tedium of running a large State Association. This would free us to do more for you!

  • For a $1.25 per month you get a lot of support and protection for your Civil Rights guaranteed under the Second Amendment.
  • For only $0.04 per day, your LSA leadership works with State Representatives and State Senators to ensure your Right to Keep and Bear Arms is not intentionally or unintentionally infringed.

Please commit to joining the LSA and maintaining your membership in the Association. Don’t put the burden of paying for your rights on the shoulders of others.

2022 Louisiana Bills: Update

Original article: April 22, 2022
Updated: May 5, 2022
Updated: May 18, 2022
Updated: May 24, 2022

The following bills with important Second Amendment implications are currently working their way through the Louisiana Legislature. Bills that are “Involuntarily deferred in committee” were defeated in the respective House or Senate Committee. Bills that are “Reported favorably” were approved in committee and sent to the House or Senate for consideration by floor vote. Bills that are “Reported with amendments” were approved in committee with amendments and sent to the House or Senate for consideration by floor vote.

Bills Supported by LSA

  • HB37 (Constitutional Carry) by Rep. Danny McCormick (R, Oil City) was reported with amendments (10-3) by the House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee. The bill was approved by the House of Representatives by a vote of yeas 64, nays 27. The bill was ordered to the Senate for consideration by the Senate Committee on Judiciary C and was reported favorably out of committee.
  • HB43 (2nd Amendment Sanctuary State) by Rep. Larry Frieman (R, Abita Springs) was reported favorably (10-1) by the House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee. The bill was approved by the House of Representatives by a vote of  yeas 73, nays 25. The bill was ordered to the Senate for consideration by the Senate Committee on Judiciary B and reported favorably out of committee without objection.
  • HB422 by Rep. John Stefanski (R, Crowley) was reported favorably (9-0) by the House Committee on Natural Resources and Environment and sent to the House of Representatives for consideration. The bill was approved by the House of Representatives by a vote of yeas 101, nays 0. The bill was ordered to the Senate for consideration and was passed. This bill provides for the taking of deer by use of pre-charged pneumatic devices (Air Guns). This will bring Louisiana law into step with modern air gun technology and the laws of other states.
  • HB463 by Rep. Alan Seabaugh (R, Shreveport) was reported with amendments (11-0) by the House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee. The bill was approved by the House or Representatives by a vote of yeas 92, nays 2 and and was passed favorably in Senate Committee on Judiciary C. The bill will now be considered by the full Senate. This bill removes the prohibition of the concealed carrying of switchblades by law enforcement officers and concealed carry permit holders. It will treat switchblades the same as other knives.
  • HB483 by Rep. C. Travis Johnson (D, Vidalia) was reported with amendments (7-0) by the House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee. The bill was approved by the House of Representatives by a vote of yeas 86, nays 0. The bill was ordered to the Senate for consideration by the Senate Committee on Judiciary B and reported favorably on a vote of yeas 4, nays 2. This bill shortens the time period for the restoration of gun rights of eligible convicted felons from 10 years to 5 years.
  • HB635 by Rep. Rodney Schamerhorn (R, Hornbeck) is the same as HB422. It is pending a hearing at the House Committee on Natural Resources and Environment.
  • HB868 by Rep. Blake Miguez (R, Erath) was reported favorably (12-0) by the House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee. The bill was approved by the House or Representatives by a vote of yeas 100, nays 0. The bill was ordered to the Senate for consideration by the Senate Committee on Judiciary B and was reported favorably without objection. This bill would direct the State Police to provide a 2-hour online handgun education course at no cost to Louisiana residents. The course would be completely optional and would not be required for obtaining a concealed handgun permit.
  • HB897 by Rep. Charles Owen (R, Rosepine) is pending in the House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee. This bill would allow members of the Armed Forces of the US stationed in Louisiana on Active or Reserve Duty to obtain a concealed handgun permit.

Bills Opposed by LSA

  • HB101 by Rep. Danny McCormick (R, Oil City) was presented to the House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee but then was voluntarily deferred by the Author with the right to bring it to the committee on a future date. This bill changes the definition of justifiable homicide to include a homicide committed against a person threatening property damage during a riot. It is a great expansion of the justifiable homicide statute that previously has required a threat of death or great bodily harm. LSA believes that this expansion is unwarranted and will cause significant problems.
  • HB209 by Rep. Mandle Landry (D, New Orleans) was involuntarily deferred in the House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee. This bill was designed to remove the preemption protections under current laws. It would have allowed the City of New Orleans to make their own firearms laws.
  • HB585 by Rep. Aimee Freeman (D, New Orleans)  was reported with amendments (8-0) by the House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee and referred the House of Representatives for consideration. The bill was approved by the House of Representatives by a vote of yeas 80, nays 11.  The bill has been ordered to the Senate for consideration by the Senate Committee on Judiciary B. This bill provides for reporting certain firearm data to the La. Commission on Law Enforcement.
  • HB949 by Rep. Tammy Phelps (D, Shreveport) is pending in the House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee. Under current law, a juvenile (defined as a person less than 18 years of age) may not knowingly posses a handgun on their person. The proposed law removes the requirement that the handgun be possessed on the offender’s person for the offense to apply. Under the proposed law, it would be illegal for a juvenile to be in a vehicle with a handgun, even if that juvenile does not know the handgun is in the vehicle.
  • SB287 by Sen. Louie Bernard (R, Natchitoches) was voluntarily differed in the Senate Judiciary C Committee. This bill provides for lifetime concealed handgun permits and reduces the permit fee. While this bill may sound good, it is problematic as it will adversely affect the reciprocity with other states and the ability to use a CHP to purchase a firearm.
  • SB327 (Red Flag Law) by Sen. Gary Carter (D, New Orleans) is pending in the Senate Judiciary C Committee. The bill was involuntarily differed by the committee. This bill provides for the seizure of firearms from persons who pose a risk of imminent injury to self or others. This is a so called “Red Flag” bill. It has issues concerning due process and is unnecessary because existing law provides sufficient protection.

LSA Files Amicus Brief in Supreme Court Case

The Louisiana Shooting Association, Inc. (LSA) joined a brief filed by the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) in the case New York Rifle & Pistol Association v Bruen argued before the US Supreme Court on November 2, 2021. This case has important implications for New York and the other seven US States that do not recognize Second Amendment rights with their discretionary “may issue” carry laws. The outcome of this case will also likely impact dozens of other cases that are currently in the lower federal courts.

Presenting the oral argument for the plaintiffs, attorney Paul Clement told the court that the constitution protects carrying concealed firearms outside the home. He also said there should be no requirement for a citizen to prove a special need to exercise a constitutionally protected fundamental right. Questions and comments by several justices pointed out that many lower courts were not adhering to the Heller and McDonald decisions by the high court and not applying the proper heightened scrutiny levels that the Second Amendment deserves. During the oral arguments, several justices affirmed that the right to keep and bear arms does not stop at the front door.

The amicus brief with the US Supreme Court supporting the NYSR&PA was joined by the LSA, the Buckeye Firearms Foundation, Connecticut Citizens Defense League, Florida Carry, Grassroots North Carolina, Illinois State Rifle Association, Maryland Shall Issue, Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, New Jersey Second Amendment Society, Sportsmen’s Association for Firearms Education, Tennessee Firearms Association, and Virginia Citizen Defense League. The brief is available here.

HB209: Horrible Bill Must be Killed

On Tuesday, April 12, Rep. Landry voluntarily deferred her HORRIBLE bill because we had so much opposition at the hearing. The bill is being brought back in front of the House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice on Tuesday, April 19 in Committee Room 6 starting at 9:30 AM.
Please. TODAY, send an email (see below).
If you can come to the hearing, your presence in the room will have a huge impact on the committee members. We need bodies in the room! When you arrive in the room, ask the security guard for a red card. Complete the red card in opposition to HB209 and hand it back to the guard.
HB209 by Rep. Mandle Landry (Dem., New Orleans) This is an absolutely HORRIBLE bill and must be killed. This bill is designed to remove the preemption protections under current laws. It would allow the 367 local governing entities throughout the state to make their own firearms laws. A law abiding citizen could easily violate a law simply by driving his or her car across a municipality border without an intent to do so. This law is an awful idea!
Right now, but absolutely no later than Monday, Aoril 18 by Noon send this email to h-acrj@legis.la.gov and also to weinmans@legis.la.gov
Subject: Opposition to HB209
Dear Mr. Committee Member,
I STRONGLY OPPOSE HB209. Under current law, the governing authority of a political subdivision is prohibited from enacting any ordinance or regulation more restrictive than state law concerning in any way the sale, purchase, possession, ownership, transfer, transportation, license, or registration of firearms, ammunition, or components of firearms or ammunition. The proposed law would change this and allow a patchwork of laws throughout the state. A law abiding citizen could easily violate the law by simply crossing a border into a different municipality. This is a horrible idea. Please join me in opposing this bill.
Sincerely,
[Insert your name]
[Insert your mailing address]
If you have time to call the members of the committee, please do. BE POLITE! State your opposition and tell them why. Ask them if they will oppose HB209 at the hearing.
Bacala, Tony District 59 R  Email (225) 677-8020
Bryant, Marcus Anthony District 96 D Email (337) 373-9380
Fontenot, Bryan District 55 R Email (985) 447-0999
Garofalo, Raymond E. District 103 R Email (504) 277-4729
Goudeau, I, Jonathan District 31 R Email (337) 347-7077
Marcelle, C. Denise District 61 D Email (225) 359-9362
Marino, III, Joseph A. District 85 I  Email  (504) 361-6013
McCormick, Danny District 1 R Email (318) 995-8040
McKnight, Scott District 68 R Email (225) 465-5703
Muscarello, Nicholas District 86 R Email (985) 974-0009
Nelson, Richard District 89 R Email (985) 222-2638
Seabaugh, Alan District 5 R Email (318) 676-7990
Villio, Debbie District 79 R Email (504) 468-8603

“Gun Day” at House and Senate Committees: April 12, 2022

“Gun Day” at House and Senate Committees
Tuesday, April 12, 2022
ACTION REQUIRED!
On Tuesday, April 12, 2022:
The House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice will hear 11 bills that have important Louisiana Second Amendment implications. The House Committee hearings will be in Committee Room 6 starting at 10:00 AM.
The Senate Judiciary C Committee will hear 1 bill that has important Louisiana Second Amendment implications. The Senate Committee hearing will start at 9:30 AM.
When you arrive in the room, ask the security guard for green cards and red cards. Complete them and hand them back to the guard. The LSA has taken a position on 10 of the 12 bills.
If you can attend this meeting, please fill out Green Cards to Support HB37, HB43, HB464, HB483, HB868, and HB897 and Red Cards to Oppose HB101, HB209, HB949 and SB327.
You do not have to speak to make your position known. In many cases, it’s best to let the professionals do the speaking for you!
Whether you attend or not, please send the following emails today!
HB464 by Rep. Seabaugh This is an extremely important bill. It provides additional due process protections to people accused of Domestic Violence in a civil proceeding and raises the burden of proof. There are too many cases of false claims being made for leverage in divorce cases where a person can lose their Second Amendment Rights and have their firearms confiscated without due process.
Right now, but absolutely no later than Monday, Aoril 11 by Noon send this email to h-acrj@legis.la.gov:
Dear Mr. Chairman,
I SUPPORT HB464. Under current law, a person can lose their Civil Right protected under the Second Amendment by simply presenting a credible threat. This is a very low threshold for one to lose a Right guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. The proposed law would increase the standard to one of clear and convincing evidence. I appreciate your support.
Sincerely,
[Insert your name]
[Insert your mailing address]
HB209 by Rep. Landry This is an absolutely HORRIBLE bill and must be killed. This bill is designed to remove the preemption protections under current laws. It would allow the 367 local governing entities throughout the state to make their own firearms laws. A law abiding citizen could easily violate a law simply by driving his or her car across a municipality border without an intent to do so. This law is an awful idea!
Right now, but absolutely no later than Monday, Aoril 11 by Noon send this email to h-acrj@legis.la.gov:
Dear Mr. Chairman,
I STRONGLY OPPOSE HB209. Under current law, the governing authority of a political subdivision is prohibited from enacting any ordinance or regulation more restrictive than state law concerning in any way the sale, purchase, possession, ownership, transfer, transportation, license, or registration of firearms, ammunition, or components of firearms or ammunition. The proposed law would change this and allow a patchwork of laws throughout the state. A law abiding citizen could easily violate the law by simply crossing a border into a different municipality. This is a horrible idea. Please join me in opposing this bill.
Sincerely,
[Insert your name]
[Insert your mailing address]
SB327 “Red Flag Law” by Sen. Carter This bill will remove one’s Second Amendment Rights without adequate due process. The proposed law would allow a district attorney or an assistant district attorney to petition a court to seize any firearm from any person when the petitioner has probable cause to believe any of a number of situations apply. Like most “red flag” laws, the goal of the law is laudable but it falls short in failing to recognize that the Right to Bear Arms is a Civil Right guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, and there is inadequate due process to protect one’s rights. The proposed law is severely flawed.
Right now, but absolutely no later than Monday, Aoril 11 by Noon send this email to sjudc@legis.la.gov:
Dear Mr. Chairman,
I STRONGLY OPPOSE SB327. The proposed “Red Flag” law is severely flawed. The Right to Bear Arms is a Civil Right guaranteed under our Bill of Rights. This right should not be removed simply because a petitioner asks a DA or ADA to petition a court. As you no doubt can see, this proposed law could easily result in the wrongful violation of one’s Civil Rights without any due process. This is a horrible idea. Please join me in opposing this bill.
Sincerely,
[Insert your name]
[Insert your mailing address]
Additional Information on Other Bills SUPPORTED by LSA
HB37 “Constitutional Carry” Bill by Rep. McCormick A similar measure was passed by the House and Senate last year and has strong support by Louisiana citizens, despite the misinformation the Governor used last year to defend his veto of that measure. The Governor has shown that he will use any and all of his political clout to keep Constitutional Carry from happening on his watch. The LSA strongly supports this Bill and will speak on its behalf, but the reality is that this is unlikely to become law with a Democrat in the Governor’s mansion.
HB43 “Sanctuary State” Bill by Rep. Frieman Although mainly symbolic, the Federal government has recently shown a strong propensity to infringe upon the Second Amendment Rights of Louisiana Citizens. HB43 provides that a federal action infringing upon a citizen’s right to keep and bear arms shall be held invalid and of no effect in this state, regardless if enacted after Jan. 1, 2022.
HB483 by Rep. Travis Johnson would shorten the length of time for a person with a felony conviction to possess a concealed weapon or apply for a concealed handgun permit from 10 years to 5 years.
HB868 by Rep. Miguez would direct the State Police to provide a 2-hour online handgun education course at no cost to Louisiana residents. The course would be completely optional and would not be required for obtaining a concealed handgun permit.
HB897 by Rep. Charles Owen would allow members of the Armed Forces of the US stationed in Louisiana on Active or Reserve Duty to obtain a concealed handgun permit.
Additional Information on Other Bills OPPOSED by LSA
HB101 by Rep. McCormick vastly expands the definition of justifiable homicide to include for the purpose of preventing imminent destruction of property or imminent threat of tumultuous and violent conduct during a riot. While this legislation may sound acceptable to you on the surface, please consider that under Louisiana law a riot is defined as 3 or more people. So, in theory, someone could shoot and kill a person if three people are standing next to your car and threaten to scratch it. This bill has the potential for too many unintended BAD consequences.
HB949 by Rep. Phelps Under current law, a juvenile (defined as a person less than 18 years of age) may not knowingly posses a handgun on their person. The proposed law removes the requirement that the handgun be possessed on the offender’s person for the offense to apply. Under the proposed law, it would be illegal for a juvenile to be in a vehicle with a handgun, even if that juvenile does not know the handgun is in the vehicle.

 

Fifth Circuit Rules Against New Jersey in 3-D Gun Ban Case: Nationwide Implications

The Second Amendment Foundation and Defense Distributed today are celebrating a court victory in a long-running battle to allow online publication of information related to the 3D printing of firearms, thanks to a ruling by the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that returns claims against the New Jersey attorney general (NJAG) to its jurisdiction.

A district court order had wrongly severed the case against the NJAG, from a lawsuit filed by the plaintiffs, and transferring it to a federal court in New Jersey. Today’s ruling in the Fifth Circuit directs the district court in Texas to “request re-transfer from its counterpart in New Jersey.”

“It’s a huge victory for us,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb, “because New Jersey wanted to be severed from our legal action in their effort to prevent publication of the information by Defense Distributed, thus violating the company’s and SAF’s First Amendment rights to promote the exercise of Second Amendment rights.”

This effort began when anti-gun-rights attorneys general, led by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, filed suit in the Western District of Washington to enjoin the State Department from authorizing the release of Defense Distributed’s files on the internet under a settlement from a previous SAF and Defense Distributed lawsuit. That effort was an offshoot of attempts by then-New Jersey AG Gurbir Grewal and several of his peers to prevent the plaintiffs’ distribution of materials related to the 3D printing of firearms.

Writing for the majority, Circuit Judge Edith H. Jones stated, “Correctly assessed, the NJAG did not carry its burden to clearly demonstrate that transfer is clearly more appropriate than the Plaintiffs’ choice of forum. The district court erred legally and factually in virtually every aspect of this issue, and its decision, which has unnecessarily lengthened this litigation even more, represents a clear abuse of discretion for which mandamus is an appropriate remedy.”

An earlier ruling by a Fifth Circuit panel held that the NJAG is “subject to the jurisdiction of Texas courts” in this case because Defense Distributed is a Texas-based company. Today, the Fifth Circuit ruling directs the district court to:

  • Vacate its order dated April 19, 2021 that severed Defense Distributed’s claims against the NJAG and transferred them to the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey;
  • Request the District of New Jersey to return the transferred case to the Western District of Texas, Austin Division; and,
  • After return, to reconsolidate Defense Distributed’s case against the NJAG back into the case still pending against the State Department.

“This case has dragged on for years,” Gottlieb noted. “What today’s ruling clearly demonstrates is that attorneys general who violate our First and Second amendment rights will be held to answer by the courts, wherever the violations occur.

“NJAG wanted their case severed and transferred,” he added, “and now that will not happen. It’s unfortunate that justice has been delayed so long. It’s time to move forward. This is a case we fully expect to totally win.”

Louisiana Bills to Watch in 2022 Session

There are  a number of important pro- and anti-Second Amendment Bills to be considered in the 2022 Louisiana Legislative Session. Here is a list and the position taken by the LSA.

HB37 MCCORMICK This is the Constitutional Carry bill filed by Rep. McCormick last year. LSA supports this bill. It is pending in the House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee.

HB43 FRIEMAN This is the 2nd Amendment Sanctuary State bill filed by Rep. Frieman last year. LSA supports this bill. It is pending in the House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee.

HB101 MCCORMICK This bill is new. It changes the definition of justifiable homicide to include a homicide committed against a person threatening property damage during a riot. It is a great expansion of the justifiable homicide statute that previously has required a threat of death or great bodily harm. LSA believes that this expansion is unwarranted and will cause significant problems. LSA opposes passage of this bill. It is pending in the House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee.

HB209 LANDRY This bill repeals the state preemption law and would allow governing authorities of certain parishes to adopt regulations related to firearms and ammunition more stringent than state law. This is a terrible bill that would create a patchwork of firearms regulations through which law-abiding gun owners must navigate. LSA opposes the bill. It is pending in the House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee.

HB422 STEFANSKI and HB635 SCHAMERHORN These bills are identical and provide for the taking of deer by use of pre-charged pneumatic devices (Air Guns). This will bring Louisiana law into step with modern air gun technology and the laws of other states. LSA supports this bill. It is pending in the House Natural Resources Committee.

HB463 SEABAUGH This bill removes the prohibition of the concealed carrying of switchblades by law enforcement officers and concealed carry permit holders. It will treat switchblades the same as other knives. The bill has already passed the House 92-2 and is now pending in Senate Judiciary C Committee. LSA supports this bill.  

HB464 SEABAUGH This bill provides for greater due process protections for those accused of domestic violence in a civil case. It also provides for a higher burden of proof to obtain a domestic violence restraining order that denies the right to keep and bear arms. This bill is designed to prevent abuse of restraining orders in civil cases because these orders have the same result with respect to firearms rights as a criminal conviction. LSA supports this bill. It is pending in the House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee.

HB483 TRAVIS JOHNSON  Shortens the time period for the restoration of gun rights of eligible convicted felons from 10 years to 5 years. LSA supports this bill. It is pending in the House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee.

HB585 FREEMAN This bill provides for reporting certain firearm data to the La. Commission on Law Enforcement. LSA opposes this bill. It is pending in the House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee.

SB287 BERNARD This bill provides for lifetime concealed handgun permits and reduces the permit fee. While this bill may sound good, it is problematic as it will adversely affect the reciprocity with other states and the ability to use a CHP to purchase a firearm. LSA opposes the bill. It is pending in the Senate Judiciary C Committee.

SB327 GARY CARTER This bill provides for the seizure of firearms from persons who pose a risk of imminent injury to self or others. This is a so called “Red Flag” bill. It has issues concerning due process and is unnecessary because existing law provides sufficient protection. LSA opposes the bill. It is pending in the Senate Judiciary C Committee.

Lessons of the Rittenhouse Trial

By Everett Baudean, Esq.

Now that it has been a few months since the verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, I have had time to both collect my thoughts and to discuss the trial ad nauseum with friends and colleagues. I even had the luxury of teaching a self-defense law seminar for US Law Shield the night before the verdict was released, and a week before that I taught one while the trial was ongoing. There was no shortage of relevant points to be made about the facts of the case and how they fit in with the law. Even though I’m not a Wisconsin lawyer, many of the legal elements are virtually the same, and having a nationally-televised trial to refer to was very helpful in explaining how things may play out in real life.

Entire books could certainly be written about this trial. It was a long one with a lot to cover, especially if you look at the media coverage and internet discussion that went on for over a year before the trial actually started. A common refrain I heard during the trial was that “the right to self-defense itself is on trial,” but I don’t necessarily agree with that. A decision of one state trial court can’t possibly have such sweeping implications. I also can’t necessarily agree that this case “should never have gone to trial” or that it was “the most clear cut self-defense I’ve ever seen” as I’ve read online numerous times.

While I do think that the jury reached the correct result and that Kyle was acting in lawful self-defense, there were obviously some things about the case that made a trial appropriate. It is important to remember that the videos and media coverage that we all saw are not the same as “all of the evidence” or even necessarily the relevant evidence for self-defense. People had a lot of questions about what happened that night, and one point of a trial is to sort all that out with some semblance of fair procedure (though whether the procedure of this trial ended up being completely fair is debatable). If you strip away all of your preconceived notions about self-defense and the inevitable involvement of politics in everything before, during, and after the shooting, and if you look at a trial as a means of determining truth, it is easy to see why it was necessary and important to have a trial.

As an attorney and concealed carry instructor, I am grateful that we did have this trial, as I think there are a few major lessons that we should all learn from this, both practically and legally. First, there are many relevant things we can learn about self-defense and its strategies from what happened to Kyle in the field. And, perhaps more importantly, we have learned a great deal about how trials like this can go down. While this was by no means the first nationally televised trial involving a hotly debated self-defense shooting, it has the distinction in my mind of showcasing basically all of the things that we worry can happen to us if we end up on trial, all rolled into one.

I’ll break down the analysis of what I consider the most important lessons into two categories: the practical and the legal. By practical, I mean the lessons that we should carry forward with us into the practice of carrying guns, whereas the legal will deal with what we may expect in the aftermath of a shooting and how we should comport ourselves in that aftermath to hedge against those legal pitfalls.

In terms of the practical, I think one of the more interesting tactics the prosecution tried to use in the trial was to make the very act of openly carrying a so-called “assault style” rifle, specifically under the tense circumstances of an ongoing riot, an act of provocation in itself. Generally, if you provoke a situation, you don’t get to claim self-defense. While I think that this argument was legally unsound, and I think the jury was correct to reject it, I don’t necessarily think that the judge was wrong to allow the prosecutor to at least make this argument, overruling the defense’s objections to the same.

To those of us who carry guns, the idea that lawfully carrying a gun in itself might be provocation is a frightening idea. As I said, the jury was right to reject it. The idea that defending yourself with a gun could, at any time, be unlawful if the very act of having brought a gun counts as provocation would be a ridiculous catch-22. But when it is open carry rather than concealed carry, and when it is under circumstances of high tension as in this case, it isn’t quite as ridiculous of a theory.

Imagine for a moment that the people who Kyle shot were other guys like Kyle himself, out there and armed, specifically for the purposes of stopping violence. Kyle shot the first person, Rosenbaum, after a gunshot can be heard nearby. Had Rosenbaum been a verifiably good person, had he not made previous threats against Kyle, and had he legitimately believed that Kyle had fired that shot at some innocent person, it would not be unreasonable for him to do what he did in trying to take the gun from Kyle. That does not mean that it would not have still been self-defense for Kyle to shoot him, if Kyle still believed that he was in danger of being killed, and if it was just a misinterpretation by Rosenbaum that Kyle was a threat.

Similarly, assume that Gaige Grosskreutz, the man with the Glock pistol who Kyle shot in the bicep, had been lawfully carrying that gun. If we change a few facts around and say that his concealed handgun permit hadn’t been expired, and that he had been walking around just like Kyle, volunteering to render first aid (as he also claimed that he had been doing), how would that change the situation? Again, Kyle would still have been acting in self-defense under the bare facts that he knew at the time. But it is also possible, if you believe Grosskreutz’s testimony, that he thought he was pulling that gun on Kyle in defense of himself and others. Again, if you take everything you now know about Grosskreutz out of the analysis, he could have easily been any one of us – carrying a concealed handgun and believing that Kyle was an active shooter.

To reiterate, this doesn’t mean that Kyle would not still have been acting in self-defense. What this points out is that, in a large-scale and chaotic situation like a riot, it seems possible that everyone might be acting in self-defense. As self-defense is based on what the shooter believes to be reasonable and apparently necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm, it is easily possible that small mistakes of fact could lead everyone to think that they are being reasonable. In that case, it wouldn’t mean that anyone was committing a crime, but it would mean that anyone shot would be a pure tragedy.

This is something that is often discussed when it comes to concealed carry and self-defense in mass-shooting scenarios. How do you know who is a good guy and who is a bad guy? If you hear shots and, in the chaos, draw your pistol on someone you see holding a gun, you can’t assume that person fired the shots. After all, there you are, standing and holding a gun yourself. Open carry, especially of a rifle during a riot, makes this even more complicated, as it is more difficult to determine who is who, who has fired shots, and whether or not someone is holding their gun in a threatening posture or not.

So while the assertion that just bringing the gun amounted to provocation failed, I do think it is important for us to consider where that line would be. In a chaotic situation like a riot, especially if you deliberately go into the situation, it is critical to be on your highest alert. Not just high alert for how other people may be acting and appearing to be threats, but also on high alert for how you are acting or how you may appear to be a threat, even if by mistake. I think we can all agree that, if you go to a riot to defend a business, it would be best to stay put at that business. Even if it becomes appropriate to walk around, Kyle also made the mistake of becoming separated from the other armed man he was walking with. After all, he testified that Rosenbaum’s threat was that he would kill any of them if he caught them alone, and this threat is one reason he felt deadly force was necessary. Still, if that is the case, it was a bad mistake to end up getting caught alone.

Again, none of this means that I don’t believe that Kyle was acting in self-defense. I believe that he was, based on the evidence, and the jury reached the right decision. But it still brings up a lot of important issues and hypotheticals, as a few different facts could have changed the outcome. A few different choices could have led to the shootings being avoided entirely, which is always the goal. It is possible to believe that Kyle was 100% justified in his actions, but to also recognize that there are lessons to be learned and mistakes that were made. Acquittal is great, but never having to go to trial is better, and never having to be involved in a shooting at all is best.

Moving on to the legal side of things, I think this is another place that we learned a great deal. Prior to this trial, “what the prosecution will use against you” was a very common topic of discussion in the self-defense community. Would they interpret your choice of gun as criminal intent? Your choice of ammunition? Gun modifications? Your training? Your lack of training? Your politics? Your lifestyle? Your social media posts?

Before this trial, this discussion was always much more speculative. There were limited examples to be found, but they were piecemeal. There might be one case here or there where one of these hypothetical factors was argued. Or others, such as the shooting of Daniel Shaver, where the gun modification was part of the news of the shooting but was excluded as evidence in the trial. In any event, the axiom that the prosecution will make every ridiculous argument under the sun was common, but the concrete proof of that actually happening was much less so.

This trial, on the other hand, seemed to have literally all of it. It was most evident when Kyle himself was on the stand. It was as if both the prosecution and the defense had read ALL of those myriad online discussion threads, and both sides vowed to play those hypotheticals out in real life. Kyle’s testimony was, on the whole, very well delivered. I was impressed with it, especially from an 18 year old kid. But it was also very predictable for anyone who has been a part of these kinds of discussions, and it followed the usual “script” to a T: “I didn’t shoot to kill, I only shot to stop the threat,” et cetera. In essence, we got to see the most common recommendations for handling these situations actually implemented at trial.

And on the flip side, the prosecution left no straw un-grasped at. As I said before, it was as if they read every speculative discussion thread on what the prosecution in such a trial may try to argue, and just copy/pasted that list as the outline of their oral argument. They also had no real concern for truth in these arguments, only appearance. Further, they didn’t seem to have much of a concern for consistency in their argumentation, whether with the facts or the law. We saw, for example:

  1. A disgusting attempt to use Kyle’s exercise of his 5th Amendment rights against him, which elicited a wrathful response from the judge.
  2. The argument that the choice of gun implied criminal intent. However, this was presented against the alternative of a handgun, with absolutely no apparent consideration of the fact that handguns have a higher age limit for purchase than long guns. I couldn’t tell if this was deliberately meant to mislead the jury, or if the prosecutor simply hadn’t even thought the argument through.
  3. The argument that the choice of ammunition implied criminal intent. However, this is usually more of a concern people have with carrying hollow point ammunition. This case shows that it probably doesn’t matter what ammo you have, a misleading argument will still likely be made about it. The prosecutor in this case even tried to talk about the differences between FMJ and JHP ammo, seemingly just to describe the “explosive” effect of JHP ammo for shock value or to confuse the jury, as that isn’t even what Kyle had in the gun. This line of questioning was eventually shut down, fortunately, as it became clear the prosecutor was trying to testify through Kyle, who said multiple times that he was not knowledgeable about different ammunition types.
  4. An attempt to use that the gun had a sling on it (of all accessories) as an argument against self-defense against an unarmed attacker, as it would make Kyle harder to disarm.
  5. An attempt to present evidence of Kyle being photographed with a T-shirt saying “Free as F***” as evidence, somehow. This was fortunately excluded, but it isn’t clear that such evidence would always be excluded in every trial, especially if the prosecution believes political leanings may have motivated the shooting, which seems to be more and more likely every day.
  6. A showing of Kyle’s TikTok account name “4doorsmorewhores” seemingly just to make him look like a bad person, which strains at admissibility, but that Kyle had the rifle in his profile picture didn’t help.
  7. And last but not least, an attempt to link playing first-person shooter video games to an intent to commit premeditated murder for similar thrills.

This is, of course, only an illustrative list of the bad arguments that stood out to me, as they’re ones that the self-defense community has always expected to face in such a situation. In the hours and hours of testimony, there were many other things that were argued as well. Fortunately, it seemed obvious to most people watching and commenting on the trial, even those who supported a guilty verdict, that the prosecution’s arguments were poorly crafted. That is the silver lining of the case – we have seen that a prosecutor absolutely will try to hold everything against you, no matter how stupid, but that this can just as easily backfire on them. That appears to be what happened here. The more strained the arguments became, the more people lost confidence in the State’s case. I think that, had their cross examination been more focused, it would have made their case seem less weak.

On the whole, it is now clear that the correct result was reached in this case, despite the shenanigans. While it is frightening to see all of the feared tactics employed by the prosecution, it is at least comforting that these tactics didn’t seem to actually work when applied, at least not in this case. It is also good to see the usual advice on how to testify about a defensive shooting (if you choose to testify, as in this case) successfully used. Still, every case is different, and a potential future defendant may not be so lucky. I don’t think anyone should be approaching this situation as the anti-gun articles fear – as a permission slip to shoot people under similar circumstances in the future. I think it would only have taken a few different facts for the verdict to change, and that the pro-gun people arguing that this is the “most clear cut case of self-defense they’ve ever seen” are clearly admitting that they have not seen very many.

As we now all turn to watch what happens with the Chad Read shooting, which seems like a much more uphill battle for a self-defense claim, I think it is important to put politics aside and reflect on the Kyle Rittenhouse case. There are many lessons we can learn from it, that the shooter of Chad Read should have learned from it. Unfortunately, it now seems like Kyle will be forever embroiled in politics, and that his life will be forever lived in the shadow of something that happened when he was only 17. Whether the rabid media coverage helped or hurt his case is anyone’s guess, and I’m not sure if I would want such coverage if I were in a similar situation. I think we can all agree, however, that there’s no way he could have paid these legal fees without the public interest in the case. As an armed citizen yourself, you can’t guarantee you’ll get that kind of public support, but fortunately there are many options for self-defense insurance these days, such as U.S. Law Shield. People can debate whether that kind of insurance is truly necessary or not, but if you think you’d ever deliberately head into the area of a riot to defend a business, that would absolutely justify buying coverage.

2022 LSA Board of Director Election Results

Each year at our Annual Meeting of Members in February, one third of the Directors are elected to our Board. From those elected Directors, the Board selects the Officers of the Corporation in an open forum.

This year, the Annual Meeting of Members was held at Cabela’s in Gonzales on Sunday, February 13. The results of the election are shown below.

List of Officers and Directors (Term Expiration)

President: Daniel E. Zelenka, II, Esq (2025)
Vice-President: Barret Kendrick (2025)
Secretary: CAPT Paul Prokop, USCG Ret (2024)
Treasurer: Jay D. Hunt, III, PhD (2024)
Director-at-Large: John K. Laws, III (2025)

Directors:
Paul Angrisano (2022)
Everett Baudean, Esq (2025)
Ron Duplessis (2024)
Clifford Grout (2023)
Gordon Hutchinson (2023)
Ronald “Buck” Kliebert (2024)
MAJ Joseph “Jay” Meynier, USMC, Ret (2023)
CAPT George Petras, USCG, Ret (2023)
Ted A. Torres, III (2023)
Dwayne Vidrine (2024)

Alternate Directors
1st Alternate: Dave Ramey (2023)
2nd Alternate: Gerald “Jerry” Liuzza, MD (2023)