Today Emma and Brittany discuss why the right to self-defense is so important and how a recent court case helped solidify this right.

Here’s a transcript of our conversation:

Emma: Hi, Brittany.

Brittany: Hi, Emma.

Emma: I know that Connor and you have discussed the Second Amendment in an episode last fall, but since it’s been a little while and a lot has happened in the meantime, I thought we could go into a little bit more detail today. And I, say this, especially since we just had a really high-profile self-defense case that involved the Second Amendment that was, decided in court yesterday. And I say yesterday at the time of us recording this, which as you guys know, is a little bit ahead of when they’re released, but, this was the Kyle Rittenhouse versus Wisconsin case, and if you’ve heard of this at all, this is gonna be a little bit of familiar recap, but I just wanna give a quick explainer of super, super basic level what happened. Kyle Rittenhouse was a 17-year-old at the time who was in Kenosha, Wisconsin during some extremely violent and damaging riots last summer. And he ended up shooting three people in self-defense as the jury found. And he was not exonerated, but he was found not guilty on three counts of murder and two other charges yesterday by a jury. And he was facing life in jail, which is a very serious thing that is someone’s entire life, especially a.

Brittany: Especially as a, you’re 18 Yeah. Year old.

Emma: Especially when you’re 18. Yeah. And a lot of people were really surprised by this verdict and said he got away with murder and said a lot of things that were just, you know, proved false. And I think that’s interesting because it kind of showed like who watched the trial and who didn’t, and who was actually looking at the evidence themselves and who wasn’t. So I suspect a lot of the people who were saying these things didn’t actually watch the trial and see the evidence because there were several videos that showed that Kyle was most certainly defending his life. And if he had not, used his weapon to protect himself, he probably could have been either very badly harmed or even killed. And I’m really relieved that he was found innocent. I’m curious, Brittany, did you, did you watch any of the trial? And I would love to just kind of hear your thoughts on the situation before we dive in more.

Brittany: I did, and I, love courtroom drama. And let me tell you, this was courtroom drama. And again, it’s very serious, obviously, somebody’s Yeah. Life was,  you know, in jeopardy here. But, you know, I, work for, and I don’t like saying the name, but I work for a public interest law firm. So, I, am not a constitutional expert by any means, but I do, I’m very interested in law, I do comms. Yeah. I’m not a lawyer, so, I found it fascinating. I get it. It felt like watching a movie, I do think an important thing to realize is, you know, people’s lives were lost. That’s not ideal. Obviously, that’s not ideal. So it was very serious, but it was really interesting to me. The prosecution pulled a lot of dirty tricks, and I’ve never seen a judge get so fiery. Apparently, this happens all the time, but obviously, I don’t watch cases all day long. The last time I remember doing this was probably OJ Simpson, which dates me. Yeah. And I was very young. I was nine or 10, but, that was a famous case from back in the day. We won’t get into that, but no, I, again, I’ve never seen a judge tell a prosecutor off like this, so it was very interesting to watch. So I was following it pretty closely.

Emma: Yes. And we’re actually recording two episodes on, that kind of touch on the Kyle Rittenhouse stuff. And in the next one, which will be on the presumption of innocence, we’re gonna talk a little bit about why the judge went off so much on that prosecutor, which I’m really excited, So stay tuned for that. That’s fine. But yeah, do you like, the way that I looked at this entire case was this kid was defending himself, and it was very interesting to me that the media just immediately jumped in and started painting him as a white supremacist and as this horrible person, there was this rumor going around that he shot three black people.

Brittany: Well, that’s what I was just gonna bring up. It’s funny to me, nobody even knew the details of the case. We were so ready to say that this was a white nationalist shooting, you know, black people, that it, people actually believed that until the trial went, on air.

Emma: Yeah, it’s true. A lot of people believe that. And even now that the trial is done, there are still people that believe that. For like I was on Twitter, a big mistake yesterday, and tweeted a couple of things about the trial and people were responding to me with just, he took his gun across state lines and he murdered three black people. And just the fact that people still will choose to be ignorant and not look into facts on their own really says a lot about where we’re at today. But we’re talking about the Second Amendment, so I’m gonna jump into that a little bit more. We are the only country on earth that has a constitutional guarantee that citizens have the right to own guns. And that’s obviously the Second Amendment. And the idea that we are, you know, limiting the government’s power to take away our guns from the very beginning of this country is really radical, especially at the time, that was a really big deal because the world used to be sort of separated into this ruling class and then kind of the citizens, the lowly peasants, and America totally shattered that power structure. And it said the government actually is beholden to the people, meaning the people tell the government what to do. And it doesn’t always look that way in modern times. But, that’s how our country was set up. And it’s still the law that is still how things are supposed to be run. And our government is held accountable to that standard. And a big reason why that exists in a very important pillar of that structure is the Second Amendment. And it’s interesting to me that a lot of people try to say that the Second Amendment is for hunting, or it’s for, you know, oh, for people who wanna have a rifle over their door in case someone breaks into their house. Like, that’s a big part of it. but the Second Amendment exists when you really look into it and you really learn about it. It exists to protect us from tyranny. And that can be from individuals trying to harm us and take away our liberties, but it can also be the government. And a lot of people have said the only reason that you know, America has been able to stay somewhat free or been able to sort of preserve its way of life, is because the government is beholden to the people and the Second Amendment backs up that promise. So, Brittany, do you wanna read real quick the text of the Second Amendment? I’ve got it highlighted here in our notes. Okay. I was

Brittany: Okay, I was gonna say caught guard. I’m gonna have to memorize it. So it is a well-regulated magic or magician, what the world, a well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Emma: And, let’s break that down a little bit. So do, Brittany, do you wanna explain what a militia is? You don’t really hear that word too much anymore.

Brittany: You don’t though, in my, you know, in Utah there are still some militias, which I, fully support. That’s awesome. So, you know, back in the day, people forget that America did not have an army when the Revolutionary War started. It wasn’t this well unified, you know, machine like we have now. It was just small groups of people defending their communities. Yeah. So that’s what sometimes they’re called minute men back in the day. But that’s what these militias were. So it was just community members who were like, you know what, we’re gonna protect our homes if somebody comes and tries to hurt us. So it was just a group of people who had, you know, who bo arms who knew how to use their guns, because back then people knew how to use what, I mean, for the most part, everybody knew how to use a gun. So these were people who were just defending their community.

Emma: Yeah, it’s true. And you know, I want to kind of go into the second part of the, the text that you read of that says, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. And that’s an interesting phrase, shall not be infringed because it’s, this is number two in the Bill of Rights. This comes only after freedom of speech, freedom of religion and association, and petitioning the government and all that good stuff. These are two of the most important ideas to what America means as a country and what is important to our founders as they’re starting this new country. And the phrase shall not be infringed, I think is very important. Yeah. And it’s often overlooked because a lot of people think that means shall not be infringed if it’s reasonable or shall not be infringed if it’s a small handgun for self-defense or shall not be infringed if you’re a hunter.

Brittany: Or that it means you’re an army that it means you have to be Right. An actual, you know, US Army member, military member, right?

Emma: Yeah. There are a lot of people that think only military only law enforcement should be able to have guns, which to me that’s even, worse. That’s even scarier because then it’s the only government that has them. But the phrase shall not be infringed means a lot to me. And there are a lot of people who believe that all gun laws are unconstitutional. And I, you know, not all libertarians, even not all conservatives agree on that. I actually do agree with that statement because I think if the founders who created this country only wanted us to be able to have certain kinds of weapons, they would’ve been clear about that. But they were instead addressing not the people saying, Hey, people, you are allowed to have these sorts of weapons and you’re allowed to defend yourself in this way. They were actually addressing the government. They were addressing future leaders saying, you do not have the right to take away these rights from people. You shall not infringe on the Second Amendment and on people’s ability to defend themselves, not just from,  you know, people who may be out to harm them, but from Government. So that I think is an important piece to focus on when you are thinking about the Second Amendment. And, you know, it’s, this whole court case was very interesting because it kind of showed the split between people on what is self-defense and what is not. And there are different states that have different laws on, you know, how to what extent you’re able to defend yourself, for what reasons are you able to defend your property or only your physical self with guns. And that is also super interesting because it kind of, you know, you, you need to be careful if you are a gun owner or you are, you know, carrying a gun concealed carry, you do need to know what those laws are. And you know, I believe that those laws do infringe on the Second Amendment, but it’s watching this case that ended up being a hugely important point where people were talking about, well, was he going to get hurt if he didn’t use the gun? Or was he going to be killed if he didn’t use the gun? And you know, Brittany, you talked about the prosecutor. One of the things that he did that just drove me crazy was he made this ridiculous point where he said, you know, oh, this guy, he was rushing up on Kyle and yeah, he was punching him and maybe we’ve all been in a bar fight before. And he goes, oh yeah, Kyle brought a gun to a bar fight and that he’s not allowed to do that with self-defense. And that is just the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard. Like this, did you see this on this literally getting attacked? Sorry.

Brittany: Did you see it on Facebook? This thread?

Emma: No, I didn’t.

Brittany: Oh, okay. I saw one on Facebook just curious.

Emma: Oh yeah, no, I was actually watching the trial when he said not the live stream. Oh. And my jaw just dropped. I was like, I cannot believe that a lawyer who should know these rules is, is actually saying this. But Brittany, I don’t know. I don’t know if you have a take on sort of like what the Second Amendment means to you. I’m not sure if you’re, you know if you’re into guns or you own them or what. And you don’t even have to tell us. But I know for me as a woman, it really does make me feel a lot safer knowing that I have the right to own a gun. I have the right to protect myself if someone were to attack me. I hope that never happens. Yes. And I hope I never have to use it truly for anything except target practice. But it means so much to me that I live in a country where I am able to take accountability for my own safety and take that into my own hands and learn how to protect myself. That is just, it’s something that I don’t take for granted. And that’s why when stuff comes up about the Second Amendment, I get so fired up is as a woman, you know, biologically I am not as strong as a man. I can’t fight a man who is trying to attack me, but I can most certainly use the tools available to me to make sure that I’m safe. And in a free country, you know, we do have this tension between liberty and safety. And because we are a free country, I love that I have the ability to exercise that. Right. So, Brittany, I don’t know if you have anything to add there.

Brittany: Yeah, so I don’t own guns mostly cuz I don’t know enough about them, like using them to feel comfortable having one. Cause I think it’s a very big responsibility having a gun. But I’m a huge supporter of them. And I agree with you,  as a woman, I think it makes sense to keep one, but not only that, there might be a time when we have to take up arms, you know, this, protection exists sometimes for us against the government too, if they ever turn on us. And we’ve seen this happen in foreign countries before. So I think it’s really important, and I think, you know, it goes back to the non-aggression principle. , you’re peaceful until somebody crosses that line and threatens your life. And then you have the right to use just force against them. So those are, those are my only closing thoughts.

Emma: Yeah, for sure. And you know, it’s, if you say something like, if the government, if we ever have to take up arms against the government, people are gonna think you’re crazy. People will think that you are a domestic terrorist, which, you know, that’s a conversation for another day. But the fact is, there have been times in American history where that has been necessary. And I mean, that is, that is how American history began, was people were being abused by the government and they took up arms and they said, no more. This is the last straw for me. You cannot infringe on my life this way. And if you, if you were to say that today as a possibility, people would freak out and they would say, you’re a crazy person, you’re a conspiracy theorist. But it’s not. That is one of the first things that set us into, you know, the path that created America. So it’s very important to who we are as a country. And, you know, it’s, I think it’s just a good thing to keep in mind that no matter, no matter what people tell you, no matter what the media says, we all have a right to defend ourselves. And I would even say a responsibility to defend ourselves because we live in a country where our freedom is respected, but the other side of freedom is a responsibility to look out for ourselves and keep ourselves safe. So that’s where I’m gonna wrap it up today, guys. We’re gonna be talking more about the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, so stay tuned for the next episode where we’re gonna go into a little bit more of how that worked. But thanks for listening and we will talk to you all again soon.

Brittany: Talk to you soon.