Go or Stay - The Kyle Rittenhouse Story

September 2, 2020
Tom Gresham

Last Sunday on "Tom Gresham's Gun Talk" radio show I shared my thoughts on the Kyle Rittenhouse saga in Kenosha, WI, working off the information we had at the time. CLICK to listen. We will learn more, but the number of videos of the attacks on him and his defense of his life certainly inform us.

Then I got this from Kevin Jarnagin ("KJ") in our office, asking about avoiding conflict.

"As gun-toting Americans we are really good about sticking up for ourselves and others, but I’ve just been thinking more and more about this Kyle Rittenhouse scenario and going over what I would have done. My ego and machismo say go and help, but my wisdom says stay home. I lean on wisdom to keep me safe. How do you distinguish which voice to listen to?"

As with most things in life, the answer is, "It depends."

Allow me to suggest that this demands a higher level of thinking than often is seen in social media exchanges. The chest-

The Kyle Rittenhouse story is a lesson to us all. Use your best judgement and choose wisely.

thumping bravado of the online warriors can, and has, gotten people into trouble, into danger, and has gotten them hurt or killed.

I'm not going to tell anyone what to do. We are adults. Decide for yourself. I will, however, suggest a few things to consider when you are developing a plan. My decision leans heavily on the advice and experience of professionals I have worked with -- people who are or have been in law enforcement and the military -- people who have been in gunfights -- people who have dealt with multiple people trying to kill them. I haven't been in those situations, so I depend on the lessons learned by those who have.

Personally, I'm not sure there are "right" or "wrong" answers. Being informed and avoiding INTOT ("I never thought of that") moments should be at the top of your preparation.

Overwhelmingly I hear from the professionals that their plan for dealing with riots and mayhem is "Don't be there." Check the ego. Back away from the social media siren call to "be part of the solution." Inserting yourself into a riot (AKA "war zone") where we now know there are armed violent criminals (often felons) who are there with the expressed intent to do extreme violence to someone is, in my view, just foolish.

It's said that good judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgement. I sure have found that to be true a lot of times. In flying, we say you have a skill bucket and a luck bucket. You hope to fill your skill bucket before using up everything in the luck bucket.

Training (in firearms and in flying) is about gaining skills based on the experience of others so that you don't have to learn the hard way.

In deciding whether to go to help others -- to protect businesses which may be threatened -- I'd suggest that you weigh several considerations. First, consider the ramifications of you getting seriously hurt or killed. Yeah, I've seen the macho stuff of "I'm willing to die for the cause" and such. Do you have a family? Would you fight to protect them? Then, would you NOT fight to protect them?


Your family loves you and depends on you. Your death leaves a deep and long-lasting trauma on the ones you love. Don't think you are the only one being put at risk.

I have friends who showed up to protect businesses. It worked out well, and the protestors got back on their buses and went home.

In Kenosha, it didn't work out that way.

Go or stay? Would you subject your children to unspeakable pain so that you could "protect" a store?  

As I say, there are no clear answers, but you should at least make informed decisions.

Could I see a situation where I would help protect friends and their businesses? You bet. I would not, however, be eager to do it, and I wouldn't do it in all situations.

Make no mistake. There are domestic terrorists in these riots who are there to hurt or kill someone.  Psychopaths and sociopaths cruise among the crowds. Prison-hardened violent felons know how to attack and show no mercy.

Trained, experienced gunfighters won't go into those riots alone, without a well-trained team.

Choose wisely. ~ Tom

Tom Gresham
Author, outdoorsman, gun rights activist, and firearms enthusiast for more than five decades, Tom Gresham hosts Tom Gresham's Gun Talk, the first nationally-syndicated radio show about guns and the shooting sports, and is also the producer and co-host of the Guns & Gear, GunVenture and First Person Defender television series.


Gun Talk Media on FacebookGun Talk Media on TwitterGun Talk Media on InstagramGun Talk on IGTVGun Talk YouTube Channel