Joe Henderson: It’s not OK for armed kids like Kyle Rittenhouse to patrol the streets

Kyle Rittenhouse
None of this would have happened if an immature 17-year-old boy didn't interject himself.

Like many of you, I watched the Kyle Rittenhouse trial with interest and read many stories from various publications about the case. I wasn’t surprised when the jury found him not guilty of the deaths of two men during civil unrest in August 2020.

But my first reaction when the news came down was to wonder where the next Rittenhouse is right now. Is he (or she) somewhere in Florida? Is his acquittal validation that a person needs to carry and confront protesters the next time they take to the streets?

Will the heated rhetoric about Black Lives Matter trigger their need to “assist” the police if there’s another demonstration? Or will they decide the police won’t get the job done in those situations, so a Rambo wannabe takes over?

The Florida Department of Agriculture reports the state received 121,272 new applications for concealed weapon or firearm licenses since June of this year. That’s in addition to the more than 2.4 million licenses already issued.

I’m sure Rittenhouse feared for his life when confronted by Joseph Rosenbaum and Joseph Huber in the middle of the chaos. His defense attorney made a powerful argument that Rittenhouse had a right to self-defense.

None of this would have happened, though, if an immature 17-year-old boy didn’t interject himself into that situation. He had no business being there, especially with a borrowed AR-15 style rifle designed for combat. We don’t need armed kids patrolling the streets anywhere.


He didn’t have the training to handle such a weapon, nor did he possess the maturity to handle that situation.

Rittenhouse also lied, early and often. He testified he was there to protect businesses and provide first aid.

Yet, he had no medical training, despite claiming he was an EMT. The business owner Rittenhouse was there to “protect” said he never asked for that or gave permission to do so.

Rittenhouse is not a hero for what he did, despite efforts from clowns like Matt Gaetz and Anthony Sabatini to paint him that way. Rittenhouse made a terrible situation worse, and the worst may be yet to come.

There is a fringe element that believes it’s OK to take matters into their own hands during riots or confrontations. Rittenhouse came to Wisconsin from Illinois with that in mind.

In his mind, along with millions of others, the Second Amendment gave all the cover he needed.

Wisconsin law says anyone under 18 who possesses or goes armed with a dangerous weapon is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, but Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed that charge before jurors could have their say.

Schroeder said he believed lawmakers wrote the statute poorly, leaving it open to challenge in court.

“I have big problems with this statute, I’ve made no bones about that from the beginning,” he said.

Activist judge, anyone?

Yeah, this whole thing was a mess from the get-go, and it left each of us to wonder what happens now.

Florida currently prohibits open carry except in specific circumstances, but Republican lawmakers routinely try to pass that in the Legislature. I imagine they’ll be back, too, maybe as soon as next year.

The only thing I know is that two men are dead, and that wouldn’t have happened if Kyle Rittenhouse didn’t travel to Wisconsin. That fact is not in dispute.

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


  • Iceman

    November 22, 2021 at 7:36 pm

    Matt and Anthony are not clowns, you are a clown. Somebody had to get out there and defend businesses and by God it was Kyle. You probably have the money to hire private security. You are a racist joe, you think it’s OK to burn down poor black neighborhoods.

    • Smarter than you

      November 22, 2021 at 11:39 pm


      • Rich7553

        November 23, 2021 at 6:35 pm


  • Charles

    November 22, 2021 at 7:40 pm

    Your brand of yellow journalism defines you and those you work for. You are well aware we’re talking about riots not demonstrations yet you intentionally write to deceive. Journalists don’t do this but washed up scumbags do.
    That would be you

  • Tinley

    November 22, 2021 at 8:31 pm

    Joe, are you a journalist or an opinion writer? This was a riot. Rioters were burning buildings and automobiles. The local government ordered the police to stand down. The gov. of the state refused to call out the National Guard.
    As for the two dead men; both were felons. One was a pedafile. One pointed a loaded pistol at Rittenhouse. One was attempting to smash his head with a skateboard.
    Next you go after the judge for dismissing a charge of firearm possession. Guess what; open carry is legal in that state. Before you attack the judge, why don’t you write about all the worthless DA’s who refuse to bring charges against known felons….witness the driver of todays “red SUV”, who ran over 40 people, and killed 5.
    Why don’t you write about that?
    Put your journalism degree to good use.

    • Janis Lentz

      November 23, 2021 at 7:56 am

      That is a boldfaced lie! Neither of the victims were convicted felons, stop the lies! Even if they WERE, that would not justify what That snot did–murdered them in cold blood! This is far from over! Many new charges and civil lawsuits will follow! This sick, twisted kid will never have a moment’s peace again; he has ruined his life as well as taking two lives in cold blood! Three sets of grieving parents will be suing him for millions in damages for wrongful death and injury.

      • Rich7553

        November 23, 2021 at 6:45 pm

        “Neither of the victims were convicted felons, stop the lies!”

        Rosenbaum was a registered sex offender and he was on the Wisconsin sex offender registry for an Arizona child molestation case. His record was over the top even for the typical insane people defending him. He faced 11 charges in the case that landed him as a sex offender and they were amended in a plea deal. According to online court records provided by, Rosenbaum received 10 years in prison in 2002 for sexual contact of a minor, and then was sentenced to 2 years, 6 months for sexual contact of a minor related to the same 2002 incident. There were five victims, all minor boys. Rosenbaum was convicted in 2016 for interfering with a monitoring device and was placed on lifetime probation in 2002.

        Court records in Wisconsin show that Anthony Huber was convicted of disorderly conduct in 2018 as a domestic abuse repeater and was cited for possessing drug paraphernalia. He was also found guilty of a felony for strangulation and suffocation, domestic abuse. He was also convicted in that case of felony false imprisonment with a dangerous weapon, domestic abuse. A charge of second-degree recklessly endangering safety was dismissed and read-in, as was a charge of battery and two charges of disorderly conduct. He was ordered not to possess weapons and no contact orders were issued.

        “Even if they WERE, that would not justify what That snot did–murdered them in cold blood!”

        The jury, which saw and heard the evidence disagreed. Your uneducated rant is wholly irrelevant, and further demonstrates your total abandon of reason and logic.

        But thank you taking this special time to humiliate yourself publicly.

  • ScienceBLVR

    November 22, 2021 at 9:06 pm

    Your article is right on , Joe. As a former Wisconsinite, I had no doubt Rittenhouse would be found not guilty. Lots of guns and lots of beer there, and a survivalist type of mentality to boot. But most folks would agree that a teenager with a gun in the middle of that chaos was a recipe for disaster. He could have just as easily been killed by some other gun toting nut with an axe to grind and an itch to hurt someone. I have a 17 year old grandson. I can’t imagine him doing anything so reckless and stupid. If Rittenhouse had been home playing video games, people wouldn’t be dead. And if he is what passes for a hero these days, our moral compass I s hopelessly out of control.

    • Tom

      November 22, 2021 at 9:20 pm

      Day dream disbeliever but no homecoming king.

      You have no clue non believer.

    • Josef

      November 23, 2021 at 4:42 am

      Well, if the convicted pedophile didn’t go around and threaten people and using racially loaded language this wouldn’t have happened. Another observation is that if the state actually protected its citizens this wouldn’t happen but its easier blaming a kid who was attacked by ex-cons and pedophiles..

    • Rich7553

      November 23, 2021 at 6:49 pm

      So Rittenhouse should have stayed home, but not those trashing and burning Kenosha? Please, do us a favor. Move back to Wisconsin.

  • Tom

    November 22, 2021 at 9:16 pm

    Hey Joe, how’s former Rep Omar Hardy on the extremist Richter scale? Bout 15, on 1-10.

    Do you make any effort to be objective?
    How bout all the looting in west & midwest coast cities? Is that ok?

    You just can’t drink beverage of choice and rehash Lawton Chiles and Bob Graham stories.


    • Tom

      November 22, 2021 at 10:49 pm

      Don’t forget Bill Nelson Joe, you can add him too to the chiles, graham stories.

  • Ocean Joe

    November 22, 2021 at 9:42 pm

    What gets left out all too often is the warning to young people who love their guns, that in Florida, at least, commission of a felony using a firearm carries a mandatory 3 year prison term, day for day, no gain time, no early release, felony conviction…and just pointing your gun at someone can result in aggravated assault charges.
    Playing with guns, and Florida’s Stand Your Ground law which expanded the ‘castle doctrine’ into a reckless, public menace can result in a life ruining event and lifelong consequences. Leave guns in public to law enforcement. And that’s where Henderson is right, the kid should not have injected himself. He spent many months sweating a possible life sentence for no good reason.
    That said, and having only watched about a minute of Grosskreutz, the verdict seemed appropriate. A series of bad actors colliding in a place none of them belonged.

    • Tom

      November 22, 2021 at 10:54 pm

      Good try ocean.
      Some facts for change.

      • Ocean Joe

        November 23, 2021 at 8:41 am

        Gosh Tom, do they have open carry down at the senior center yet? Seriously, delve into the penalties under Ch. 775 before you flash a gun at somebody.

        • Tom

          November 24, 2021 at 6:52 am

          Watch it river joe, your unnecessary cheap shots are beyond kind. You have been told to straighten out. I can easily lump you into the peter h weasel category along with TJB, Alex socialist and a few others but I’m respectful. All the other Manchurians have been defeated and ran from me.

          I don’t carry, nor am I at the center. But I respect every ones right to have one and live at both. Have you spoken to a Doc? Your hostility towards seniors is concerning. LOL
          Get help for your deranged politics and hate of seniors.

    • Tom

      November 23, 2021 at 6:16 am

      Hey Joe, how bout Rep Tlab wanting to close federal prisons. How bout the AOC squad? You just are one sided

      • Ocean Joe

        November 23, 2021 at 8:13 am

        For some reason, the Parkland families are now recovering from the federal govt over FBI failures to follow up. The case you cite was about a woman’s effort to sue police after her husband violated a restraining order killing their children. The gun lobby argues a broader application, I say it is about the limits of civil liability after the harm is done. The police cannot be everywhere. That said, filling the streets with guns has brought us to where we are. People taking their weapons to the grocery store, GOP open carry, it all leads to trouble.
        Guard your store, keep a gun in your car, carry a gun if you are a rancher, but IN PUBLIC teenagers and antifa punks and Charlotte rednecks have no business carrying firearms into a protest. Leave that to law enforcement.
        Before you take the law into your own hands, or along with your gun safety course, you really should bone up on the penalties Florida imposes for use of a firearm in the commission of a laundry list of felonies. And you may think your use of the gun will always be righteous, but you may end up either in jail or financially bankrupted or both because the guy you pointed the gun at called the cops first. How bout the idiots who killed somebody over: parking in a handicapped space; talking in the movies; playing music too loud. When you think more guns are the solution you are part of the problem.

        • Tom

          November 24, 2021 at 6:43 am

          Ocean Joe, your cheap shots are legendary now. Well known.

          Yes the FBI was to busy with fake Russia gate. I wonder why.

          Bottom line on parkland was the incompetence of Sheriff Israel and his team. They essentially ignored the multiple warnings signs, several of them. Only America’s Gov promised and held Israel accountable. Israel acted like he was owed the position. Typical!

    • Rich7553

      November 23, 2021 at 6:53 pm

      “…Florida’s Stand Your Ground law which expanded the ‘castle doctrine’ into a reckless, public menace…”

      Detached reflection cannot be demanded in the presence of an uplifted knife. Therefore, in this Court at least, it is not a condition of immunity that one in that situation should pause to consider whether a reasonable man might not think it possible to fly with safety or to disable his assailant, rather than to kill him. Rowe v. United States, 164 U. S. 546, 164 U. S. 558.

  • SJT

    November 23, 2021 at 2:43 am

    You’re absolutely right when u say Rittenhouse isn’t a hero and it’s stupid to treat him as one. You can definitely say rittenhouse was foolish for even being there. I agree. It was a poor decision. But it was not a crime. (By the way he is a lifeguard and they do need to know basic first aid and he did have medical supplies with him). And in every case when rittenhouse fired his weapon, he was attacked first including the third guy who pulled his gun on rittenhouse. It was a clear case of self defense and the prosecution failed to disprove it. So yes rittenhouse was stupid for being there. But that doesn’t make him a murderer and the jury, correctly in my opinion, decided not to convict.

    • Ronald Gast

      November 23, 2021 at 3:59 am

      The guys that attacked him, (really bad people in real life) went out of their way to do the life threatening attack. They got what they deserved, no tears.

  • Josef

    November 23, 2021 at 3:22 am

    By that standard the three agressors should also not be in Kenosha with weapons.. If they were not there, this wouldn’t happen.

    • Ocean Joe

      November 23, 2021 at 8:26 am

      Bingo! Don’t take your guns to a protest. Period.

  • Ronald Gast

    November 23, 2021 at 4:00 am

    The guys that attacked him, (really bad people in real life) went out of their way to do the life threatening attack. They got what they deserved, no tears.

  • zhombre

    November 23, 2021 at 7:19 am

    Kyle Rittenhouse is not guilty but …. that’s the gist of this opinion piece and the astute reader can disregard everything before the but, as the author goes on, the skill of a greased weasel, to allocate guilt.
    “The only thing I know is that two men are dead, and that wouldn’t have happened if Kyle Rittenhouse didn’t travel to Wisconsin. That fact is not in dispute.”
    Well, no, not exactly. They wouldn’t be dead if they hadn’t come to Kenosha to riot and destroy property. They wouldn’t be dead if they hadn’t viciously attacked Kyle Rittenhouse.
    I sincerely hope Rittenhouse retains counsel and sues the pants off the media hacks who defamed him.

  • Andy Crossfield

    November 23, 2021 at 7:46 am

    At the core of this trial is the belief that law enforcement is ineffectual on crime. Why else are there so many gun sales? Why else is there a growing vigilantism sentiment in America?
    So why don’t these cowboys hold the police accountable?
    Because too many see no shades of grey in any issue, only black and white.

    • It's Complicated

      November 23, 2021 at 10:30 am

      The VAST majority of people who own guns are not obnoxious about it, and are primarily concerned about personal safety or recreation. But, I can assure you that a street riot spilling onto private property in my neighborhood (with its uplit American, Marine Corps, and Gadsden flags flying on flag poles in front yards) would likely be met by multiple well-equipped, knowledgable, calm, and resolute rifle teams. Short of testing the fences out here, you’d never know any of us owns a gun.

      The primary way to lower the crime rate is to take criminals off the street, which has real costs associated with it. Depends upon who you ask as to whether that is a good approach. Law-abiding citizens living in these minority communities are more times than not perfectly fine with locking up the dangerous people who happen to share their skin color.

  • It's Complicated

    November 23, 2021 at 10:13 am

    If you sow to the wind, you reap the whirlwind.

  • Ron Ogden

    November 23, 2021 at 5:37 pm

    By the same logic, it is not OK for 39-year old multiple felons like Darrel Brooks, Jr. to be allowed to drive, right? But he was driving, wasn’t he, and he appears to have deliberately killed six people. I’ll be looking forward to your editorial about that. FYI–Darrell Brooks was already charged with running over his girlfriend. Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted.

  • Lee

    November 24, 2021 at 4:32 pm

    What does anyone expect from a libnut, so-called journalist?? Why is there nothing being said or done about that fact that convicted felon was carrying a gun?? One Calif. guy after being hit by a skateboard – have you mentioned that? Cain killed Able with a rock…. it’s got nothing to do with guns! I’ve been conceal-carrying for years, EVERYWHERE. And I can’t wait to see Florida become an open carry state!

Comments are closed.


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