Kyle Rittenhouse became a GOP celebrity when he got away with killing two unarmed protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, almost three years ago.
But the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee in Idaho sunk to a ghoulish new low this weekend with a fundraiser that underscored the right’s sickening obsession with firearms.
“TRIGGER TIME WITH KYLE RITTENHOUSE,” read the committee’s online promotion for an opportunity to blaze away with the baby-faced killer.
The promo said that the 9:30 a.m. “exclusive event” for “VIPs” at Guns-n-Gear in Idaho Falls would include “rifles…rounds…range time.” There would be refreshments in a “VIP lounge,” along with a chance for photos and autographs.
Tickets would be auctioned.
“This VIP Auction Experience will only be available to the 30 highest bidders,” the promo advised.
There was a link for an online VIP Auction Experience” where tickets “only be available to the 30 highest bidders,” with bidding starting at $100. There was also a Ruger AR-556 autographed by Rittenhouse and painted red, white and blue with a floor bid of $3,000.
There you have it—the ultimate GOP gun fetish, dressed up with false patriotism, headlined by a dimwit dining out on the blood he shed on a Midwest street. A writer for The Idaho Statesman rightly called the whole event “obscene.”
A person who answered the phone at the Republican committee on Tuesday said that between 25 and 30 people had attended “trigger time” and photos had been taken. She said she would relay an interview request to the chairman, Nick Contos, who did not respond to multiple messages.
The Daily Beast was able to contact the committee’s first vice chair, Anthony Tirino, who has a photo on his Facebook page of himself holding an AR-15 as Rittenhouse autographs it. The picture was posted two hours before Sunday morning’s event. Tirino said that any comment would have to come from the chairman.
The Daily Beast then called Guns-n-Gear to ask if there was someone who could provide details about the event.
“I don’t think so,” the person who answered the phone said before hanging up.
The committee did post on YouTube a video of Rittenhouse’s’ speech at its Lincoln Day Gala the night before the VIP shooting spree. The gala crowd became the latest to disgrace itself by welcoming him with enthusiastic applause. He began by noting that this was his first time in Idaho.
“All I really know about you guys is you guys are known for your potatoes,” he said. “I gotta say, I love the view here. It is a little cold. I love the mountains though.”
He then recounted the source of his celebrity.
“So, a little background. On August 25th, 2020, I was put in an unpredictable situation where I was forced to defend my life,” he said.
The full truth, which doesn’t change no matter how many times he glosses it over, was that at the age of 17 he traveled from his home in Illinois to Wisconsin and then brought Smith & Wesson M&P 15 assault rifle to a largely peaceful protest over an unarmed young Black man fatally shot by the police.
Rittenhouse ended up killing a 36-year-old protester named Joseph Rosenbaum, who had been holding only a plastic bag. Another protester, Anthoyn Huber, was holding only a skateboard when he sought to pull away Rittenhouse’s weapon and prevent further shooting. Rittenhouse also killed him, then wounded a third protester, who actually was holding a handgun, though it doesn’t appear to have been pointed at Rittenhouse.
But a jury decided he had been in fear for his life when he fired and found him not guilty. One of the lasting images of the trial was of Rittenhouse dissolving into tears.
“I was put on trial, smeared by the media, smeared by the current sitting President of the United States,” Rittenhouse told the Bonneville County gala crowd.
“And the attacks still haven’t stopped; I faced lawsuits and ridicule on a daily basis.
He made it clear during this speech, as during others, that his tears during the trial had been out of self-pity, not remorse.
His callousness was reinforced by the applause of those who imagined him worth admiring. He turned himself over to the event’s host for a question-and-answer session.
“Take us through what your life has been like since your acquittal,” the host said. “We watched the whole ordeal. It was very painful to watch you go through. I was watching some clips the other day and what a painful experience that was for you. So maybe get us caught up what your life has been like the last year and a half. “
Rittenhouse replied, “Since I was acquitted on November 20th, 2021, my life has been a little bit of a roller coaster to say the least. I’ve traveled around a lot. I’ve got to meet a lot of cool people, like talk to [Tucker] Carlson, President Trump, and I’ve met a lot of great supporters like you guys.”
The host asked if he would have done anything differently that night in Kenosha.
“If I would’ve known [that] I would’ve been ambushed, chased down, had guns pointed in my face, and then put on trial for defending my life, I wouldn’t have gone, I would’ve stayed home,” Rittenhouse replied. “But that does not change the fact that I was violently and viciously attacked by a mob of rioters.”
Never mind that is not at all a fact.
“What is your basic message to others about the Second Amendment?” the host inquired.
“They take our guns, they take the rest of our freedoms,” Rittenhouse said.
He argued that gun control was not going to end the mass shootings and other violence.
“What will is a good guy with a gun,” Rittenhouse said.
The crowd erupted into cheers and whistles. And two dozen of his admirers were at Guns-n-Gear at 9:30 the next morning for TRIGGER TIME WITH KYLE RITTENHOUSE.
The Rosenbaum family could not be reached for comment on the Trigger Time event, and a lawyer for the Huber family had nothing to say. But the family’s vew of the killing that so many Republicans cheer is offered in the wrongful death suit Huber family is bringing against Rittenhouse.
“Anthony Huber is a hero,” the complaint says. “He attempted to disarm Rittenhouse, end the gunfire, stop the bloodshed, and protect his fellow citizens. Tragically, Anthony died when Rittenhouse shot him in the chest as Anthony tried to pull the assault rifle from Rittenhouse’s hands.”
By that telling, Huber died a good guy with a skateboard. Rittenhouse is just a bad guy nobody should applaud, much less pay to blaze away alongside.