Rittenhouse Case: Wisconsin Weapons Law and the Kenosha Prosecutor

Prosecutor’s table, Kraus, left, Binger with glasses, right

U.S.A.-(AmmoLand.com)- On August 25, 2020, Kyle Rittenhouse shot three people who attacked him, during the riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin, killing two, in claimed self-defense. There is no question he was attacked. It is all on video. As of this writing, the jury is in deliberations. We should know the results soon.

One result was reached before the jury was given their final instructions. The weapons possession charge against Kyle Rittenhouse was dismissed by Judge Schroeder. This author has written the charge should never have been made. There were reasons to keep the charge. It served several political purposes.

Dismissing the weapons charge is far more significant for Kyle Rittenhouse’s friend, Dominick Black, than for Kyle.

Dominick Black started dating Kyle’s sister, McKenzie, in 2020. Kyle and Dominick grew close. They called each other brother.

In May of 2020, Kyle Rittenhouse, his close friend Dominick Black, Kyle’s sister, McKenzie, who was dating Dominick, and a couple of other people traveled to Dominick’s family acreage in northern Wisconsin, near Ladysmith. The family has a 13-acre property with an old gravel pit used as a gun range.

About May 1, 2020, Dominick Black purchased a gun with money provided by Kyle. The agreement was that Dominick would retain legal and physical possession of the rifle until Kyle reached the age of 18. Then Dominick would transfer legal and physical possession of the rifle to Kyle. One of the reasons Kyle wanted an AR15 type rifle was because Dominick had purchased his own AR15 type rifle 2-3 months earlier. Kyle would turn 18 eight months later.

Kyle could not legally purchase the rifle until he was 18 years old. Kyle could legally possess the rifle in Wisconsin. He could not legally possess the rifle in Illinois until he obtained a Firearms Owners Identification Card (FOID). Kyle applied for a FOID in May of 2020. The FOID process was backed up for several months. Months after Kyle was charged, the Illinois authorities refused to issue a FOID because of the Wisconsin charges.

Before August 25, Kyle had shot the rifle once, at Dominick’s family’s range in Ladysmith. After the single shooting, the rifle had been kept in the gun safe of Dominick’s stepfather, at Dominick’s residence. There was no substantial transfer of the rifle to Kyle. This is important. A “straw purchase” under federal law requires a substantial transfer, not a short and temporary transfer. A rifle can be loaned to a friend for a hunting trip, for example, without the transfer creating a “straw purchase”.  Neither federal nor Wisconsin state law forbids Kyle Rittenhouse from possessing a rifle.

On August 27, 2020, Assistant District Attorney ADA Binger filed charges against Kyle Rittenhouse. Kyle maintained he had defended himself in Kenosha a little before midnight on August 25. Seven charges were filed in less than two days, probably less than 36 hours. This was done in what Judge Bruce Schroeder described as the most complicated case he has seen in his 40-year career. This is one reason the weapons charge was included. The charges were placed very, very fast, before most facts were known, or evidence even gathered, in a case where the defendant had voluntarily turned himself into the police.

ADA Binger is not familiar with guns. It is obvious from his presentations in court. He probably was not familiar with 948.60. The charges were rushed, without serious investigation.

Most of the facts of the case were already known by September 14, 2020. It was clear at that time, there was a very strong case for self-defense.

It was clear, by September 2020, that neither Kyle nor Dominick had violated 948.60. The penalties for the weapons charge are much more severe for Dominick than for Kyle.

On November 3, 2020, over two months later,  ADA Binger charged Kyle’s friend, Dominick Black with two charges of providing a dangerous weapon to a person under the age of 18, where the person discharges the weapon, and someone dies as a result.

The statute is 948.60(2)(c):

 (2)

(a) Any person under 18 years of age who possesses or goes armed with a dangerous weapon is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

(b) Except as provided in par. (c), any person who intentionally sells, loans or gives a dangerous weapon to a person under 18 years of age is guilty of a Class I felony.
948.60(2)(c) (c) Whoever violates par. (b) is guilty of a Class H felony if the person under 18 years of age under par. (b) discharges the firearm and the discharge causes death to himself, herself or another.

A subparagraph of the statute creates an exception that shows Kyle and Dominick were not in violation:  948.60(3)(c)

 (c) This section applies only to a person under 18 years of age who possesses or is armed with a rifle or a shotgun if the person is in violation of s. 941.28 or is not in compliance with ss. 29.304 and 29.593. This section applies only to an adult who transfers a firearm to a person under 18 years of age if the person under 18 years of age is not in compliance with ss. 29.304 and 29.593 or to an adult who is in violation of s. 941.28.

One of the things which happened during Kyle’s testimony in his case, as he demonstrated he understood Wisconsin weapons law better than ADA Binger did.

For Kyle, the maximum penalties are a fine of up to $10,000 and or up to nine months in jail.

For Dominick, the maximum penalties are a fine of up to $10,000 and/or six years in prison for each charge. Dominick is facing up to twelve years in prison.

The charges against Dominick are a powerful weapon for a prosecutor to use to compel cooperation by a witness.

It is likely one of ADA Binger’s main goals to confiscate and destroy the two rifles. As Dominick was the legal owner of the rifles, the rifles would normally be returned to him, if he were not convicted of a crime. Gun confiscation would send a powerful message to the population, that owning guns is a bad idea.

In the McClosky trial in St. Louis Missouri, the prosecutor stated one of his main goals was to confiscate the weapons used by the McClosky couple in defending their home.

Dominick’s trial was moved to be after Kyle’s trial, months before Kyle’s trial.

With Judge Schroeder dismissing the weapons charges against Kyle, it appears the weapons charges against Dominick go away as well. How can a person be convicted of supplying a dangerous weapon to a person under 18, when it did not happen? The exception in the law for Dominick is in the same subsection of the law, 948.60 (3)(c) as for Kyle.

Judge Bruce Schroeder is the same presiding judge in Dominick’s case as in Kyle’s case.

The logical thing to happen is for ADA Binger to drop the charges against Dominick, once Kyle’s trial is over. Barring that, Dominick’s attorney should file a motion to dismiss the charges to Judge Schroeder.

Dominick Black is a victim of incompetent and/or corrupt prosecutors in this case.

Having the charges dropped means the rifles legally owned by Dominick Black should be returned to him. They are likely to be very valuable. Based on past famous trials, they could easily be worth a quarter-million dollars.

If Kyle is found not guilty of all charges, then Dominick should honor their contract and transfer the rifle Kyle provided the money for, to Kyle.


About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean Weingarten


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