U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- On August 25, 2020, Kyle Rittenhouse defended himself from numerous attackers with an AR15 type (Smith & Wesson M&P 15) rifle. The rifle was not legally owned by Kyle. He had legal possession of it. This was due to a quirk in the law. People under the age of 18 have always been able to buy rifles from private owners and possess them, but they are not allowed to buy them from licensed federal dealers.
Kyle Rittenhouse had given money to Dominick Black to purchase the rifle from a licensed federal dealer, with the understanding he would transfer ownership and possession to Kyle when Kyle attained 18 years of age. This is not illegal, as no “substantial transfer” to Kyle took place. Dominick Black retained legal and physical possession of the rifle. Temporary transfers are allowed by federal law.
During the attacks on Kyle Rittenhouse, Kyle killed two men and wounded another in justified self-defense.
On August 27, 2020, Assistant District Attorney (ADA) T. Claire Binger charged Kyle Rittenhouse with possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under the age of 18. The law cited is Wisconsin Statutes 948.60. The definition of a “dangerous weapon” in the statute is very specific. The statute exempts rifles and shotguns from the definition, as long as they are not “short barrel rifles and shotguns”. The same statute makes it a felony to knowingly provide a “dangerous weapon” to a person under the age of 18, if the weapon is discharged by the person under the age of 18, and results in the death of a person.
Four months after ADA T. Claire Binger charged Kyle Rittenhouse with the weapons charge, he charged Kyle’s friend, Dominick Black, with two felonies for providing the rifle to Kyle on the night of the riots in Kenosha.
ADA Binger appeared to suffer from a mental block with regards to Wisconsin weapons law. He repeatedly said things such as; If read that way, the law makes no sense; That could not possibly have been the intent of the legislature; The exception only applies to people while hunting.
The legislatures and the people of Wisconsin disagreed.
Rifles and shotguns have always been legal for people aged 16 years and more to own, carry, and use in Wisconsin. There were no age limits on the ownership, carry, and use of rifles and shotguns until 1985. Before 1985, the same limits applied to everyone, regardless of age. Most age limits on the ownership, carry and use of rifles and shotguns are of relatively recent vintage.
This seemed difficult for ADA Binger to process, perhaps because he has been indoctrinated by the old Media, which has attempted to implant the idea that AR15 type rifles are especially “dangerous”. He acted surprised when he asked Kyle Rittenhouse if Kyle believed Kyle could legally possess an AR15, but not a pistol, and Kyle answered “Yes”. Perhaps ADA Binger disingenuously misapplied the law for political purposes.
Most people were surprised to find that Kyle Rittenhouse understood Wisconsin weapons law better than did ADA T. Claire Binger. ADA Binger has been a successful lawyer for decades. He seemed capable of good cognition in court.
At the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed the weapons charge, because it did not apply to a person who was 17 years old, unless the rifle was a “short barrel rifle” with a barrel less than 16 inches long.
In law, the possibility remained the rifle was a prohibited “short barrel rifle”. The prosecution had not bothered to measure the barrel. This is understandable; the rifle is a standard S&W M&P 15, with a barrel slightly over 16 inches long.
The prosecution clung to this legal possibility as a way to impugn the legality of Kyle’s possession. Judge Schroeder asked if the rifle was in the courtroom. An apparently exasperated Judge Schroeder gave permission for the prosecution to measure the barrel.
The prosecution then gave up the sham and stipulated the rifle was of legal length.
Obviously, the prosecution knew the rifle was of legal length the entire time. In previous hearings, they had acknowledged the “short barreled rifle” statute did not apply.
The charges against Dominick Black depended on the sham theory the rifle was classified as a “dangerous weapon” in Wisconsin Statute 948.60. Judge Schroeder ruled that was untrue, and dismissed the charge in the Rittenhouse trial.
Judge Schroeder is the judge in the trial of Dominick Black. Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty of all charges on Friday, November 19, 2021.
On Monday, November 22, 2021, Dominick Black’s attorney filed a request for a status hearing on Black’s upcoming trial, for January 10, 2022. From wicourts.gov:
Minutes: Clerk/T. Lema. ADA Thomas Binger appeared for the State. Deft appeared along w/Atty Anthony Cotton. Defense counsel requests another date; needs time to speak with his client. Status conf set for 1/10/22 @ 11:30am.
This correspondent noted the dropping or dismissing of the Wisconsin weapons charges against Dominick Black, was almost certain, because the Wisconsin weapons charges against Kyle Rittenhouse were dismissed by Judge Bruce Schroeder during his trial.
A prediction: the charges against Dominick Black will be dropped or dismissed. The dismissal is likely to occur on 10 January 2022.
Why does it matter?
The Kyle Rittenhouse case has become a saga of American history. The rifles used in the case have become historical artifacts. Those on the left have a history of desiring to destroy historical artifacts, especially guns. The prosecution in Wisconsin has no authority to destroy rifles that were not used in a crime.
The rifles are likely worth more than a quarter of a million dollars if auctioned on the open market. They have become a symbol of Second Amendment rights and the right to self-defense.
Possibly unrelated speculation:
A peculiar event occurred during the testimony of Dominick Black in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. Rittenhouse defense attorney Richards asked Dominick if Dominick’s attorney had told him Richards was available to speak with him, if Dominick was willing.
Dominick indicated he had never learned of such an offer.
It seems unusual a lawyer would not communicate such an offer to a client.
Could a requirement that Dominick Black not talk to Kyle Rittenhouse’s counsel have been indicated or made by ADA Binger?
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.