Kyle Rittenhouse Urges College Students to Arm Themselves on Campus During Speaking Tour

Kyle Rittenhouse, acquitted of fatally shooting two men at a 2020 protest, is now touring college campuses with a controversial message advocating for students to arm themselves. His appearances have sparked protests and raised questions about the limits of free speech on campuses.

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Sakchi Khandelwal
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Kyle Rittenhouse Urges College Students to Arm Themselves on Campus During Speaking Tour

Kyle Rittenhouse Urges College Students to Arm Themselves on Campus During Speaking Tour

Kyle Rittenhouse, who was acquitted of fatally shooting two men at a 2020 protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, is now touring college campuses with a controversial message: students should arm themselves. The 20-year-old has partnered with the conservative group Turning Point USA for a speaking tour called the "Rittenhouse Recap" where he argues that the right to bear arms is a constitutional right that should not be infringed upon by colleges.

Rittenhouse's appearances have sparked protests and raised questions about the limits of free speech on campuses. At a recent event at the University of Memphis organized by the school's Turning Point USA chapter, Rittenhouse faced backlash when he refused to answer a question about statements he considered racist. He was quickly escorted off stage, cutting his appearance short. The university administration also faced criticism for allowing him to speak.

The man Rittenhouse shot and injured in Kenosha has criticized the speaking tour, accusing Rittenhouse of "gloating" and "making light of taking life." But Rittenhouse, who was embraced as a hero by some on the right after the shootings, insists he is just trying to stand up for the Second Amendment. He argues that students need to be able to protect themselves from potential threats like terrorist attacks.

Why this matters: Rittenhouse's case and his emergence as a controversial public figure reflect the deep polarization in the U.S. over issues of guns, vigilantism, and the right to self-defense. His campus speaking tour is reigniting those debates in a sensitive setting and testing the boundaries of free speech at colleges.

Experts say that while Rittenhouse's message is inflammatory to many, context matters in determining whether such speech is protected or crosses a line into threats or incitement. For now, Rittenhouse shows no signs of backing down from spreading his pro-gun stance to college students. "I'm 20 years old and I'm up here talking about the importance of the Second Amendment," he said at the Memphis event. "The only reason I'm able to be up here is because of the Second Amendment."

Key Takeaways

  • Kyle Rittenhouse acquitted of fatally shooting 2 men at 2020 protest
  • Rittenhouse now tours colleges advocating for students' right to bear arms
  • Rittenhouse's appearances spark protests, debate over free speech on campuses
  • Rittenhouse argues 2nd Amendment allows him to speak on college campuses
  • Rittenhouse's case reflects polarization in U.S. over guns, vigilantism, self-defense