Kyle Rittenhouse and the Dismissal of Property Rights

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In the wake of the shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, by Kyle Rittenhouse, there have been a lot of arguments made against his actions, mostly from the American left, but even some from libertarians. A quick perusal of articles from various left-leaning outlets, and the comments sections therein, reveal Kyle to be anything from a mass shooting murderer, to a right-wing nut in search of trouble. In the time since the shooting, a lot of new information has come to light, including a remarkably fair analysis of the footage by the New York Times.

To get some basic arguments out of the way, I think it’s clear from NYT’s analysis that Kyle acted in self-defense. Another argument might be that his claim to defending property is illegitimate because it was not his property, or because he crossed state lines. This, in my view, is a ridiculous proposition. To argue that you have no right to protect the property of another would imply that you would be acting outside your rights if you prevented a kidnapping in process. After all, the victim is not your property – they own themselves. The claim that people don’t have a right to defend the property of others also undermines the entire premise of protesting on the behalf of another. The argument that Kyle’s claim to property defense ends across state lines also draws arbitrary boundaries on where your rights to aid others begin and end. Would you honestly refuse a request for aid from a friend, or relative, because they live in another state? This undermines any protests on behalf of George Floyd, or Jacob Blake, that occur in other states.

I’ve seen a different kind of argument against Kyle’s actions as well, from self-avowed Marxists, the left, and even libertarians, to varying degrees. That is the argument against lethal force in defense of property. From the Marxists, they claim that private property shouldn’t even exist. From the left, and some libertarians, the value of property doesn’t exceed that of a human life.

Let’s define property rights, which are the right to exclusivity over a thing – someone’s property. A person has the right to exclude others from the use of their property.

To dispute the dismissal of property rights as a whole, let’s first identify where property rights come from. The primary right from which all other rights are derived is the right to ownership of one’s own body. From the right of self-ownership, we can derive a right to self-preservation, as you have the right to sustain, or destroy, that which you own. In order to sustain the body, a person must be able to make claims to unclaimed resources in which they have invested their labor to transform. If a person cannot make claims to the resources they utilize to sustain themselves, then self-preservation is impossible. If theft, or destruction, of property cannot be a violation of rights, then the use of violence to impede a person’s survival is not a violation of their rights. Therefore, to imply that a person has no right to defend their property is to imply that they have no right to self-preservation.

Let’s move on to the more common argument, that lethal force is not acceptable in defense of property. This argument is often based on a premise that the force utilized to protect property should be proportional to the threat against the property. However, a requirement of proportional response makes the claim to property rights contingent upon an individual’s ability to use marginally superior force in response to a threat. If you cannot repel a threat without using more force than necessary, then your right to that property is surrendered. Therefore, the claim to property would be relative to one’s own ability to exercise force. This strips property rights from those who cannot exercise force only marginally greater than the aggressor.

Under such conditions, only a person with unlimited access to power, across the spectrum of power, at all levels, has a claim to property. If a person’s right to keep their property is limited by their ability to defend it, then those with limited power must delegate the protection of their property to an outside force. This, in turn, makes the right of property ownership by the powerless subject to the discretion of those with power to enforce it. Because property is derived from self-preservation, this in turn means that self-preservation is limited by one’s ability to enact marginal violence.

That lethal force is permissible in defense of one’s property is based upon the premise that a person’s right to self-ownership, self-preservation, and property, is absolute, not relative. Obviously, there is a reasonable degree of force which is acceptable as a response to a threat. If you shot a person who dared stray onto your property, you’d clearly be in the wrong. However, in the demand for proportional response, it is implied that property rights are relative to one’s ability to exercise force, or are subject to the discretion of those to whom we delegate property enforcement.

The view that it is okay to destroy property, but not to defend property, that it is okay to batter and kill, but not to defend yourself, is a violation of natural rights. The claim that you don’t have a right to defend your property erodes the basis on which people can claim self-ownership, self-preservation, and property.

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20 COMMENTS

  1. Well stated. I’ve also followed the premise that it is up to the individual who is threatening to take or destroy property as to the value of that property over the value of their own life. If one has the right to possess and defend their property, at what point does that right end? Someone says “give me your wallet”. I say “no”. They say “give it to me or I will take it from you”. I again say “no”. Now, the aggressor is in the position of using force to take my wallet or walking away. If they decide to use force, I am justified in resisting with force necessary to protect not only my wallet, but my body as well. To someone who says “using deadly force to defend your property means that you value your property more than someone else’s life”, I say, “to risk your life to attempt to steal or destroy my property means that you value my property more than your own life”. That’s your concern, not mine.

  2. I’m a firm believer in the self-defense law but this is just B.S. Kyle Rittenhouse is a 17 yr old punk who took an AR-15-rifle across state lines because he said he wanted to “get in on the action”. The end result was he shot and killed 2 people and paralyzed another person. At the very least, he should be tried as an adult and he should never get out of prison. To even suggest that a minor can cross state lines with a rifle and shoot people to save someone else’s property is ridiculous. I don’t believe the self-defense law is meant for people who willfully put themself in a dangerous position.

    • The main aggressor, Rosenbaum, was convicted of raping 5 boys between the ages of 9 and 11. Fact. Watch the videos of that psychopath going after Rittenhouse. He had every right to defend himself. And as far as willfully putting yourself in danger, that is exactly what those rioters were doing.

    • Because you don’t believe it, because you don’t agree, because it hurts your agenda, because you’re offended… DOESN’T make it factually, legally or morally wrong. All three will be held up in court and the case WILL be tossed. Get over it….

    • Oh, and can you please explain so eloquently when and who put themselves into a dangerous situation. I can’t remember if it was the kid standing with a rifle, ready to defend, or those that committed Aggravated Assault and Attempted Murder that resulted in the firearm being used as a ‘response’.
      You libtards have a mental incapacity of understanding the difference between an ‘action’ and a ‘response’.

      Next, you’ll try defending the rapist of the three by saying ‘If the young man wasn’t there, the rapist wouldn’t have been tempted to make him his girlfriend’, followed by ‘If the rifle wasn’t there, they would’ve just been peaceful protestors! It was the rifle that provoked them!’

      Am I right? Or am I correct?

    • You are correct. Also I’d like to point out to absolutely everyone that in any State you might live in you can not kill someone for perceived notions of destruction of property. No material item that can be replaced is worth more than a life and soul. The kid was not protecting property it’s a nice defense claim but he went looking for trouble and found it. That kid doesn’t even have a developed frontal lobe yet. His mom must not either though she’s just as guilty as he is. She aided in the crime also. This is what is expected though when the lower social economical population with no frontal lobes start voting. He is exactly where he should be as he murdered people.

      • You are obviously not well informed, and I would recommend that you not try and give the impression that you are. To even make such an absolute statement betrays your ignorance.

  3. On this one we agree. He went there in answer to a call for help. He shot in self defense after first being attacked. To argue state lines over a 20 minute drive is ridiculous. To say that it’s okay to allow rioters to destroy property is very wrong. I pray there’s an end to all of this lunacy in the near future, but I worry it’s only going to get worse. When people get fed up enough, we’ll see a lot more Kyles in the form of civil war.

  4. Kyle is an American hero who should be pardoned by the President. He was attacked by three ex-convicts, shot all 3 in self-defense and killed 2 of 3. MERICA!

    We need more Kyle Rittenhouses in times like these.

  5. I like how you completely ignored the fact the he broke the law by open carry at the age of 17. And the fact he crossed state lines while illegally carrying his firearm is also a crime. Both crimes are felonies. And the argument of self defence is no longer valid when actively committing a felony crime.

      • Niiiiiice. By that logic, if we arbitrarily make their assembly and particular freedom of expression felonies, these people wouldn’t have the right to protest in the first place. IT’s ThE LaW, right? Natural rights trump any arbitrary man-made law. Good comment.

    • The people he shot were committing felonies as well, so they had no right to defend themselves against him either, right?

      • Steven, you are correct that the article completely ignored any age related factors regarding Wisconsin law. It is illegal for any person under the age of 17 to carry a deadly weapon in public.
        However, that infraction is a misdemeanor in Wisconsin… NOT a felony.

        And it has not been publicly disclosed/ officially known if Kyle carried his weapon across state lines… or if he ascertained possession after he crossed.

        But what is important to understand is that also defined by Wisconsin statutes is that any person who furnishes a minor with a firearm that has been used in a lethal force action, IS guilty of a felony (murder or manslaughter… unsure)… regardless of the circumstances of the action.

        Simply, Kyle was breaking the law by carrying a firearm… but by doing so, he set forth the chain of events that resulted in him using that weapon, lethally.

        It doesn’t matter IF he was called to defend property… since he was a minor.
        As it pertains to the relevant/ surrounding events… it also doesn’t matter IF a bunch of dumbass protestors were committing crimes of vandalism and/ or rioting… which also hasn’t been factually ascertained/ disclosed… officially.

        Nor does the background of any victims matter since it is most likely that Kyle was not aware of such backgrounds. (Though, if Kyle DID know about his victims’ history, that changes things dramatically… and puts Kyle into consideration as being a vigilante with premeditated intent.)

        • Uhhhhh… put all that nonsense aside and try focusing on the fact an Aggravated Assault and Attempted murder commenced prior to anyone getting shot. Remove those and you have merely a misdemeanor.
          So, again, back to where this all started to turn into a deadly situation, you have a young man committing a misdemeanor having felonies committed against him that likely would’ve resulted in his death (or rape – all things considered) and according to you he loses his right to self-defense?

  6. All 3 of those rioters were felons. One raped 5 boys between the ages of 9 and 11. There is video of that convicted child rapist aggressively attacking Rittenhouse before he shot him. Also, those rioters were committing felonies by burning down buildings and physically attacking people, as they had been doing for days.

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