INDEXJOURNAL.COM SEPTEMBER 2, 2020 – The scenes have become commonplace in 2020: People gathered at state Capitols with semiautomatic long guns strapped across their chests. A couple near St. Louis emerging from their mansion brandishing firearms as Black Lives Matter demonstrators marched by the house. Men roaming the streets with rifles during protests over racial inequality, punctuated by two people being killed in Wisconsin and another in Oregon over the weekend.
The pandemic, protests against racism and police killings, a rancorous election and some people’s perception that cities are being overrun by violent mobs have brought about a markedly more aggressive stance by some gun owners and widened the divide over firearms in the U.S.
Last week’s arrest of a 17-year-old accused of killing two people in Kenosha, Wisconsin, with a semiautomatic rifle is just the latest flashpoint. Over the weekend, supporters of President Donald Trump streamed into Portland, Oregon, resulting in a clash with protesters that ended with a supporter of a right-wing group fatally shot.
The white teenager and other gun-toting protesters have been denounced as radical vigilantes who benefit from a double-standard — that if they were Black gun owners brandishing their firearms, the police would use deadly force against them. To others, they are patriots seeking to bring law and order to cities that have been overtaken by extremists.
“I would have done the same thing, to be honest with you,” Todd Scott, of Covington, Georgia, said of the teenager in Kenosha.
He’s viewed video of the teen, Kyle Rittenhouse, being chased by protesters and believes he was acting in self-defense. Scott once used his gun to break up violence, becoming a bit of a local hero in 2015 after a gunman killed a clerk and a customer at the liquor store where he was picking up beer. Scott fired on the suspect before he fled.
Kat Ellsworth, who heads the Liberal Gun Club chapter in Illinois and lives in Chicago, is appalled by those who have converged on protests and are openly carrying firearms. She believes those gun owners have been emboldened by Trump. [full article]