The Corner

Law & the Courts

Manjoo vs. Rittenhouse

I have not followed the Kyle Rittenhouse case closely. Farhad Manjoo has been following it closely—“riveted,” he calls himself. I’ll take him at his word on that — and, if Manjoo’s account is to be credited, then the shooting seems to have been perfectly justified.

Manjoo complains that the presence of firearms turns situations that might have ended in “broken bones into ones that ended with corpses in the street.”

Well, yes. That’s the idea.

If there is a mob that proposes to beat you so savagely enough to break your legs or fracture your skull, you shoot them. That’s what firearms are for — preventing situations that end in broken bones and other serious injuries. If they kick down your front door, you don’t ask them 20 questions about their intent and what’s in their pockets — you shoot them. If they try to bash in your head with a blunt object — for instance, the skateboard in the Rittenhouse case — you are perfectly justified in shooting them.

Self-defense isn’t High Noon. You don’t stand there with your Colt “Peacemaker” holstered and dare the other guy to draw like Gary Cooper in some old Western. Manjoo’s case isn’t really an argument against Rittenhouse’s actions — it is a case against using a firearm for self-defense categorically. It amounts to a demand that you stand there and get your legs broken for the greater good.

Maybe the lesson here is: Don’t bring a skateboard to a gunfight.

Attacking an armed person is a good way to get yourself hurt. Rioting is a dangerous business — maybe you shouldn’t do that.


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