I felt my stomach drop. My barber had just reported to me the news that a Kansas City Police officer had shot and killed a pregnant black woman who was unarmed and in handcuffs, following a routine traffic stop. “That’s murder,” I whispered in my shocked response. Immediately, my mind flashed back to scenes from Kenosha, Wisconsin—during which terrified residents put up signs supporting Black Lives Matter to plead for safety from the mob of arsonists. Would Kansas City soon descend into a similar chaos?
As I listened to the barber’s account, I also caught the 5:00 news on television. Could there have been two different police shootings? No, the case was just so badly distorted through misinformation that it was hard to recognize.
To begin with, it turned out that before the shooting, Loenna Hale came to the attention of police as a passenger riding in a recently carjacked vehicle. It was not a routine traffic stop as the rumor suggested. Police produced a video still of Hale holding a pistol. She was not unarmed as the rumor maintained. Law enforcement claimed she turned to take aim at police before they fired at her. She was not in handcuffs when they fired as the rumor held. She survived the incident (in contradiction of the rumor) and was later released on bail.
Oh, and it turns out she wasn’t pregnant.
Like the false rumors surrounding the incident that touched off the Kenosha riots, almost everything in the original rumor was carefully fabricated to incite the maximum rage in those who heard it. This wasn’t simple or innocent miscommunication. Every altered detail made the fiction more provocative. And activists seeking to raise money in response to the shooting continue to broadcast uncensored falsehoods on social media.
In Kenosha, rumors were promulgated holding that police shot and killed an unarmed black man in front of his children. In fact, “Blake was shot four times in the back and three times in the side . . . as he brandished a curved-blade knife while attempting to kidnap his children in a vehicle he was attempting to steal from his ex-girlfriend, Laquisha Booker, whom he had allegedly sexually assaulted just three months before.”
Thankfully, the Kansas City Mayor and the prosecutor acted courageously and quickly to credibly dispel the outrageous rumors about the shooting. Both Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker and Mayor Quinton Lucas deserve recognition and commendation for courage. Both are Democrats. Republicans can only envy their civic courage. Most cities are not as blessed by such conscientious leadership, no matter which party dominates.
We know from our experience in 2020 that legacy and social media will happily spread any rumor, no matter how vile, to stir up more unrest and division or, ideally, another riot. In spite of all of the pious proclamations from our tech overlords about their concern for our safety, we all know that’s garbage. Social media failed to flag or react in a timely way to warnings on their platforms posted about both the Buffalo and the recent Uvalde, Texas shootings.
Now to the point. This is not a piece about dealing with misinformation. Official efforts to combat “misinformation” are laughably political and partisan. This is about gun control. Why do Americans need AR-15s with a high capacity magazine? Because too often, mobs inflamed by planted rumors are allowed (even encouraged) to rampage through American communities. Ask Kyle Rittenhouse. The AR-15 is a jury-approved tool of self-defense against a mob of attackers.
Mobs like these don’t materialize in a vacuum. Tyrants, dating back to the Romans, have employed mobs to influence politics. Mussolini, Mao, Hitler, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of Iran, all developed an “on and off” switch for their street goons. And no, it’s not different when the mob is inflamed by social justice concerns. Every mob since before the Romans claims to be fighting for justice of some kind.
Recall that Kamala Harris rather conspicuously pledged to “stand by” Kenosha rioters and helped raise money for Minneapolis rioters who burned down an entire police facility. Biden excused the Kenosha riots on the grounds of “the original sin in this country . . . slavery, and all the vestigages of it.” One should not hold one’s breath for help from the Biden Administration if one’s city descends into chaos.
Mark and Patricia McCloskey and Kyle Rittenhouse have demonstrated that the AR-15 with a conspicuous high-capacity magazine is the appropriate tool to deter a mob (in the case of the McCloskeys) and may be wielded as a legitimate instrument of self-defense (in the case of Rittenhouse). And, as I pointed out in 2020,
Americans can also see that powerful rifles are turning up in the possession of violent rioters and looters. In this video, one can clearly see Raz Simone, then a noted leader within Seattle’s ‘Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone,’ handing out an expensive, tricked-out AR-15 to a complete stranger. Simone somehow went from an Airbnb host to a Tesla-driving, arsenal-distributing mogul in the space of a few weeks. As shown in this video, a militant left-wing militia group called NFAC . . . staged an armed protest in Kentucky during which an accidental discharge wounded three people.
Unfortunately, we live at a time when social and legacy media help agitators spread lies to incite mob violence. And for a variety of reasons, one may not be able to count on law enforcement to engage a violent threat. Once the threat materializes, it’s possible that the police will “maintain a perimeter” while “waiting for equipment and backup,” while people continue to die. Jurisdictions governed by the Left have been particularly brazen about selective protection based on politics. The University of California recently was forced to settle a lawsuit charging that UC Berkeley withheld security and protection from conservative speakers.
Americans deserve the chance to protect themselves from rampaging mobs and (God forbid) the government itself if tyranny arises. And they should not take for granted that their Republican representatives will stand firm to protect these rights.
Things are different now. Gun confiscators are willing to weather the backlash of moderate gun owners to achieve their greater objectives. Indeed, the hopeless condition of their midterm prospects leaves them with little to lose. It’s in the air. The NRA is bankrupt and compromised. Anti-gun forces (not all of them Democrats) control Congress and the White House. And before you count on the Supreme Court, remember the mob now knows where each of the conservative justices live. The Second Amendment has never been in greater peril.