Potential jurors in Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial were asked their opinions on AR-15 rifles, and some said they were afraid they’d face threats if chosen to serve


Kyle Rittenhouse
  • Jury selection began Monday in the Kyle Rittenhouse’s homicide trial.

  • Rittenhouse is accused of killing two men and injuring another during unrest in Wisconsin last year.

  • Potential jurors were questioned extensively about their knowledge of and opinions on guns.

Potential jurors in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial were questioned extensively on their knowledge of guns, while some in the pool said they were worried about threats if they sat on the case, as jury selection kicked off Monday.

Rittenhouse was 17 years old in August 2020, when he shot and killed two men and injured another during unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, following the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

Rittenhouse traveled to Kenosha to protect businesses from damage by the demonstrators, and his defense team will argue that he acted in self defense.

Many of the questions that Rittenhouse’s attorney, Corey Chirafisi, posed to jurors on Monday centered on their knowledge of guns and their opinions on semi-automatic weapons.

Many in the pool of prospective jurors said they own guns or are avid hunters. One woman said she acquired a weapon during the unrest last year in order to protect herself.

Kyle Rittenhouse trial
Demonstrators gather outside the Kenosha County Courthouse as jury selection in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse begins on November 01, 2021 in Kenosha, Wisconsin Scott Olson/Getty Images

Chirafisi also asked whether the potential jurors had strongly held opinions about AR-15s, the style of rifle that Rittenhouse used in the shooting.

AR-15-style rifles are semi-automatic, and there has been debate over whether they should be legal in the US, thanks to their use in mass shooting events.

One woman was dismissed from the jury when she said that she didn’t think anyone should be allowed to own an AR-15, and said her opinion was so strong it could make her prejudiced against Rittenhouse.

“I don’t feel a weapon like that should belong to the general public,” she said.

Another man who shared similar opinions said he thought he could be impartial. He was still in the potential jury pool as of Monday evening, when jury selection began to wind down.

While Kenosha County Judge Bruce Schroeder said he hoped to seat the jury in a single day, he later stretched that estimate to two.

A couple of potential jurors also expressed worries about how deciding the case would impact their lives.

“Either way this goes, half the country is upset with you,” one potential juror said. “It’s just scary. I don’t want people to have my name, I don’t want to be seen on TV.”

She added that she took someone else’s car to the court out of fears she might later be identified. Another woman said she feared the same thing, and took a Lyft instead of driving herself to the courthouse.

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