Politifact Won't Remove False Fact Check Saying Rittenhouse Illegally Possessed Gun After Charge Tossed


Even if the politically motivated, inept prosecution against Kyle Rittenhouse does somehow make a charge or two stick, one thing is clear: It cannot be said that Rittenhouse violated Wisconsin law regarding a minor in possession of a firearm.

But a Politifact fact-checker said Tuesday that Rittenhouse, then 17, could not legally have obtained a gun in August 2020 when, pleading in self-defense, he killed two men and wounded one during a Black Lives Matter riot in Kenosha.

Wisconsin law regarding carrying a firearm is so confusing that on Friday, Judge Bruce Schroeder threw out the charge of a minor carrying a weapon.

“I have been wrestling with this statue with, I’d hate to count the hours I’ve put into it, I’m still trying to figure out what it says, what’s prohibited. I have a legal education,” Schroeder said.

But that’s not good enough for Politifact.

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Immediately following the shootings, Politifact reviewed a Facebook post stating that it was legal for Rittenhouse to be carrying a weapon.

“Our reporting found that it was far from perfectly legal, and that it was, in fact, legally murky. That’s why we rated the claim False,” Politifact staff writer Daniel Funke said Tuesday.

“Wisconsin law says that ‘any person under 18 years of age who possesses or goes armed with a dangerous weapon is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor,’” Funke continued.

“In our fact-check, we cite the possibility of an exception for rifles and shotguns. The exception is aimed at letting children ages 16 and 17 hunt. But, as it is also clear, Rittenhouse wasn’t in Kenosha to hunt.”

Was it legal for Kyle Rittenhouse to be carrying a gun at age 17?

Funke noted defense challenges to the gun charge, which initially the judge denied, but last week, when it came to arguments over jury instructions, Schroeder tossed the charge.

Funke repeated an Associated Press account of a lawyer not connected with the case who said unclear laws must be read in the defense’s favor, but noted the Wisconsin Legislative Council Staff, an agency that aids legislators, wrote a 2018 opinion that, if followed, would appear to say Rittenhouse should not have had a gun.

The sticking point seems to be in Section 941.28 of the Wisconsin statutes prohibiting minors only from having rifles or shotguns that are short-barreled, according to an analysis by lawyer Will Chamberlain, who also is a publisher of Human Events.

Rittenhouse’s rifle did not have a short barrel, so the law wouldn’t apply.

The hunting prohibition is for those under 16, which Rittenhouse was not at the time of the shootings, Chamberlain said, and Rittenhouse wasn’t involved in hunting anyway.

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So, as Schroeder said, it’s unclear. This prompted Funk to write: “These subsequent events show the grey areas of local gun laws — hardly a case of something being ‘perfectly legal.’ Our fact-check remains unchanged.”

Unchanged — meaning Politifact’s Tuesday headline still says: “’Perfectly legal’ for Rittenhouse to carry a gun? False.”

In effect, Rittenhouse has been tried and convicted by Politifact, even though a charge when intensely examined by a court of law could not be kept in place.

It’s long been said you don’t want to watch the legislature make laws any more than you want to see how the sausage is made. And no matter what the process, it looks like the Wisconsin gun laws for minors came out confusing.

Perhaps there’s another thing you don’t want to watch, or trust — how leftist media outlets do their so-called fact-checking.

Let’s revise the Politifact headline. How about: “Perfectly legal for Rittenhouse to carry a gun? According to Wisconsin law, yes.”

That seems accurate. But, of course, that doesn’t fit the leftist narrative.

Remember that when you read the fact-checkers.

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Mike Landry, PhD, is a retired business professor. He has been a journalist, broadcaster and church pastor. He writes from Northwest Arkansas on current events and business history.
Mike Landry, PhD, is a retired business professor. He has been a journalist, broadcaster and church pastor. He writes from Northwest Arkansas on current events and business history.