Kyle Rittenhouse to speak at a gun event at East Las Vegas Library
Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot and killed two men during a protest against police violence in Wisconsin, is scheduled to speak at a gun concealed carry course in Las Vegas.
Kyle Rittenhouse, the man who shot and killed two men during a protest against police violence in Wisconsin in 2020, is scheduled to speak at a concealed carry course in a Las Vegas public library this spring.
Rittenhouse, who maintained that he shot three men in self-defense and was later acquitted on all charges, has become a firebrand on the political right.
Firearms instructor and organizer Nephi “Khaliki” Oliva said that the “Talkin’ ‘bout Guns” event — rebranded from “Guns in the Library” — has drawn hundreds of messages calling for Rittenhouse’s invitation to be rescinded.
He told the Review-Journal Wednesday that he understands why people are upset. On the other hand, he said, “the truth is we need to talk about this.”
Oliva intends for the conversation to be about steps that can be taken so that a shooting like Rittenhouse’s “never happens again.”
“I don’t want to retry the case,” he added. “I want to learn from those mistakes, educate gun owners how to avoid critical mistakes and move on.”
On Facebook, Oliva wrote that “there is no one in the country that has debated the pros and cons to this case more than firearms instructors around the country. If there is to be any wisdom and intelligence extracted from what was a tragic event, it will come from our side.”
Library neutral on guests
The course is scheduled for May 13 at the East Las Vegas Library, which is operated by the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District.
Around 300 attendees are expected to pay between $114 and $199, depending if they declare themselves to be a “patriot” or a Democrat or Republican, according to the event’s ticket page.
The taxpayer-funded library district distanced itself from the specific event, noting that its meeting rooms are available for public rental to anyone.
“The upcoming ‘Guns in the Library’ event is not sponsored by the Library District and does not, in any way, represent the views of the organization,” the district wrote on Twitter.
Weapons, however, are not allowed at the library, the district added.
Oliva echoed the library’s points: “If you have issues, direct them at the source… which is me.”
Racist remarks in the past
Oliva was chastised last year for racist slides he presented at a Clark County Library concealed weapons course last year, which was attended by several Republican political candidates.
A “Firearm Safety for Black People” slide had a bulleted list: “ALWAYS shoot the gun right side up. ALWAYS lick the chicken grease off your fingers before shooting. ALWAYS make sure there’s a white person around so you have someone to blame for everything that goes wrong in your life. Always aim for small children to ensure you actually hit another gang member.”
After the event drew public ire, the library district condemned “hate speech in any form,” but maintained the same position it’s now taking about Rittenhouse’s speaking invitation.
Around the time of the George Floyd murder at the hands of Minneapolis police, when racial justice protests turned into riots across some U.S. cities, Rittenhouse armed himself with a semi-automatic rifle and traveled from Illinois to Kenosha, Wisconsin. He was 17 years old at the time.
Rittenhouse claimed he was there to help protect property, but he was chased during the protest, fatally shooting a man who he said was following him.
As the chase continued, Rittenhouse shot and killed a man who hit him with a skateboard, and then wounded a third man who had approached him with a gun.
An event at the annual SHOT show in January at the Venetian that was to have featured Rittenhouse was canceled.
“People out there don’t understand how important Kyle Rittenhouse’s case is,” Oliva said on his podcast. “And (for) every lawful gun owner of this country, who are concealed carriers, Kyle Rittenhouse represents our worst fears and our highest hopes.”
Contact Ricardo Torres-Cortez at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @rickytwrites on Twitter. The Associated Press contributed to this report.