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By Laura Schulte November 26, 2021

Nadler wrong on claim Rittenhouse crossed state line with gun before shooting at Kenosha protest

If Your Time is short

  • During the trial , Rittenhouse’s friend, Dominick Black, stated he had purchased the AR-15 style gun used in the shootings.

  • He also said he had stored it in Kenosha.

  • There was no evidence offered that suggested Rittenhouse transported the gun across state lines.

When Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of killing two men and wounding another in a series of shootings during a night of unrest in Kenosha in 2020, the verdict drew cheers and outrage.

And bad information -- just as the case has from the very start.

In condemning the Nov. 19, 2021 verdict, some pointed to the fact Rittenhouse, now 18, had come to Wisconsin that day, joining a group of other armed individuals who said they were there to protect property.

In a post-verdict tweet, U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-New York, called the outcome "heartbreaking." 

"Justice cannot tolerate armed persons crossing state lines looking for trouble while people engage in First Amendment-protected protest," he wrote.

Part of that statement -- the claim Rittenhouse was armed when he crossed state lines -- was repeated by many in the wake of the verdict.

But that information is wrong.

Tweet  vs. reality 

When asked for backup, Nadler spokesperson Dan Rubin said the tweet was trying to make the point that Rittenhouse could be open to further review by the U.S. Department of Justice because he crossed state lines to be in Wisconsin for the protests. 

The tweet, Rubin said, wasn’t meant to convey that Rittenhouse had taken the gun itself over state lines, arguing that the situation "at least opens up the possibility of a broader review from DOJ."

But that’s not what the tweet says. It suggests Rittenhouse brought the gun to Wisconsin, when testimony said he did not.

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(To be sure, there was plenty of controversy around the fact he had a gun, and Rittenhouse initially faced a misdemeanor charge of unlawfully possessing the gun as a minor. Under Wisconsin law, anyone under 18 who possesses a dangerous weapon is guilty of a misdemeanor, unless they fall under an exception, such as for hunting. For months, Rittenhouse's attorneys pointed to one of those exceptions that they argued allows 16- and 17-year-olds to carry rifles and shotguns as long as they are not unlawfully short-barreled. Prosecutors acknowledged the gun was not short-barreled, after which the judge tossed the charge.)

During the trial, Dominick Black, a close friend, testified that he agreed to purchase the gun for Rittenhouse, according to a Nov. 2, 2021 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report

Black used money Rittenhouse gave him to make the purchase in Wisconsin, knowing the purchase was illegal. Rittenhouse and Black agreed that Rittenhouse wouldn’t get the gun himself until he turned 18. 

Rittenhouse did shoot the weapon several times the weekend it was purchased while up north at Black’s family hunting property in May 2020, the Journal Sentinel report said. 

Black testified that normally, the AR-15 was stored in Black’s home in Kenosha, locked up in a gun safe. The safe could only be opened by Black’s stepfather. But the night of the unrest, the guns were taken out of the safe and into the basement. 

Some time after Rittenhouse arrived in Kenosha on Aug. 25, 2020, he retrieved the gun from Black’s basement and went into the downtown area. 

(A final note: Now that Rittenhouse has been acquitted, Black is asking that charges against him related to buying the gun be thrown out. A decision on that has been delayed.)

Our ruling

Like many others, Nadler said in a tweet following Rittenhouse’s acquittal that the teen had traveled across state lines with a firearm. 

But Rittenhouse never had his gun in Illinois, according to testimony in the trial. It was purchased in Wisconsin by Black and stored in Black’s home in a gun safe. 

We rate this claim False.


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Nadler wrong on claim Rittenhouse crossed state line with gun before shooting at Kenosha protest

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