CNN’s legal analysts seem to have a problem with Americans exercising their Second Amendment rights, and this came up again on Wednesday. Jennifer Rodgers joined Newsroom hosts Jim Sciutto and Erica Hill to discuss the ongoing trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, where jurors are currently deliberating.
Rittenhouse faces several felony charges, all related to one night in Kenosha, Wisconsin when he shot three people, killing two. The defense has maintained that all shots fired were in self-defense, and it seems unlikely that the 18-year-old will be convicted of the most serious charge, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison. However, the CNN hosts and guest disparaged the fundamental constitutional freedom that allowed Rittenhouse to carry a gun in the first place.
After Rodgers begrudgingly admitted that Rittenhouse’s testimony helped him, saying that “he was actually a very good witness,” Sciutto returned to a talking point that he has brought up again and again, fretting over a so-called legal precedent enabling Americans to openly carry guns, should Rittenhouse be acquitted (also known as the Second Amendment): “From a perspective of precedent…nationally, do you see the potential for setting something of a precedent for how folks react, if they see violence, riots, protests in another city and whether they can show up and whether they’ll have some legal protection for doing so?”
Rodgers replied by citing an article in The New York Times regarding self-defense jurisprudence. The article claims that the concept of self defense is outdated, especially in the context of “a country where the perception of threat is heavily influenced by race”: “Experts say self-defense, vigilantism and policing are deeply connected — all are deeply racialized American traditions in which Black people, particularly men, are more likely to be viewed as threats and white people are more likely to be given the benefit of the doubt.”
The article also insinuates that simply carrying a gun could be considered a provocation that would discount any claims of self-defense, citing a law professor who said: “If you display a firearm or you point it at another person, that’s a threatening act that ordinarily would give, I think, a reasonable apprehension of death or serious bodily harm.”
Rodgers also made unsubstantiated claims about the correlation between legally owned firearms and gun violence:
As jurisdictions pass laws about, you know, their citizens being able to carry firearms openly around the streets, we’re going to have more situations like this. More gun violence will happen, and we’ll have more cases like this where someone ends up getting shot, who wouldn’t have been had there not been a law allowing someone to carry a gun like that. So, you know, as a society, I think we really need to grapple with this issue and think about whether we want to do something about all these guns on the street that unquestionably are leading to more gun violence. You know, unfortunately, that’s a bigger issue for our legislators ultimately to decide upon.
It’s clear that the liberal media wants fewer law-abiding citizens carrying weapons, and even laments the legislative process that protects the right to bear arms.
Read the full segment transcript below by clicking Expand:
JIM SCIUTTO: Let’s speak now to former Federal Prosecutor Jennifer Rodgers about all that’s involved here.
SCIUTTO: There’s a range of charges here, we should be clear, different charges for different deaths, different folks who were shot by Rittenhouse here. When you look at this range of charges, what do you think of what Erica and I have heard from experienced trial judges and lawyers that oftentimes juries, when faced with such a range, will look for some sort of compromise? In other words, that they have a natural leaning towards assigning some sort of accountability here even if it is not the highest charge. And, by the way, I ask that with the proviso, I know we can’t hope to guess how this particular jury will go.
JENNIFER RODGERS: Well, as you think about how a jury of 12 people would think about this, they’re negotiating, right? They come from all different perspectives. And so there’s likely to be disagreements at the outset. And then they’ll look for common ground because there’s really a lot of pressure on them to reach a unanimous verdict here. If they do go out and say that they’re unable to do that, the judge will likely give them a charge and send them back in to try again. So, it’s really on them to try to reach an agreement here. And so as part of that, they will negotiate maybe. I mean, I won’t say will, but they often do, right? They’ll say, okay, we can’t agree on the top charge, but maybe we can all agree on a lesser included charge. And that’s how they kind of reach unanimity, which is, of course, what they have to do to return a verdict.
ERICA HILL: The burden, ultimately, as we know, in a case like this, is on the prosecution. But there has been a lot made of the defense and the case that the defense put on, specifically the decision to put Kyle Rittenhouse on the stand. How important do you think that will be as they’re deliberating, as they’re walking through the evidence and the testimony that they heard?
RODGERS: So, when a defendant testifies, it tends to overshadow everything else. It happens pretty rarely actually. But when it does, that’s what everyone remembers and that really does tend to be what everything turns on. My assessment was that he was actually a very good witness. But at the end of the day, the jury is going to have to think about what he said, but also the other evidence too. But I do think in these cases, the defendant’s testimony is something that’s extremely key, and he performed well. So, I think that will help him.
SCIUTTO: From a perspective of precedent, and we should keep in mind that there are laws particular, for instance, the state of Wisconsin about when and how — and they’re relatively liberal in Wisconsin — someone can show up with a firearm, right, in the midst of something like this. But, but, but, nationally, do you see the potential for setting something of a precedent for how folks react, if they see violence, riots, protests in another city and whether they can show up and whether they’ll have some legal protection for doing so?
RODGERS: So, there’s a really interesting conversation going on around all of this. There was an article in The New York Times about it the other day. As jurisdictions pass laws about, you know, their citizens being able to carry firearms openly around the streets, we’re going to have more situations like this. More gun violence will happen –
RODGERS: — and we’ll have more cases like this where someone ends up getting shot, who wouldn’t have been had there not been a law allowing someone to carry a gun like that. So, you know, as a society, I think we really need to grapple with this issue and think about whether we want to do something about all these guns on the street that unquestionably are leading to more gun violence. You know, unfortunately, that’s a bigger issue for our legislators ultimately to decide upon.
HILL: Jennifer Rodgers, always good to have you with us. Thank you.