Amnesty International Calls for End To 'Open Carry' After Kenosha Shooting

Following the shooting death of two people in Kenosha, Wisconsin allegedly murdered by a militia member who was openly carrying a military-style semi-automatic rifle, the human rights organization Amnesty International has called for a national repeal of all "open carry" laws that allow gun owners to openly carry firearms, such as rifles or pistols, in public.

On Tuesday, two men, 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum and 26-year-old Anthony Huber, were allegedly killed by 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse who now faces a first-degree murder charge. Video captured the alleged shooting and footage of the gunman walking calmly past police afterward.

"Law enforcement officers in Wisconsin and all over the U.S. have expressed concern over open carry laws in the past, as these policies escalate violence and endanger police and the public," Amnesty International wrote in a statement.

The organization noted that Wisconsin law allows people ages 18 and older to carry loaded firearms even if they don't have a gun permit.

"Two people are dead and one injured because an armed private individual—who did not even need a permit to carry his loaded gun—decided to target them," the group wrote of the suspected gunman. "Open carry laws, especially where no permit is required to carry, endanger the public and should be repealed. The U.S. is failing to protect people's right to live and to protest safely."

Newsweek contacted Amnesty International for comment.

open carry Kenosha Amnesty International
Supporters and members of Patriot Prayer and Peoples Rights Washington demonstrate the open carry of firearms at a rally against the Washington state mask mandate outside the Clark County Sheriffs Office on June 26, 2020 in Vancouver, Washington. Karen Ducey/Getty

Currently, 31 states allow open carry without any license or permit, though in some cases the firearm must be unloaded. An additional 15 states require some license or permit to openly carry, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Advocates of open carry say that the public visibility of guns discourages violent criminals from attempting robberies or assaults and allows citizens to respond more quickly if a life-threatening crime occurs.

Opponents of open carry argue that it wastes police resources as citizens report armed individuals in public, does nothing to prevent violent crime, is used as a public intimidation tactic by white supremacists, can escalate ordinary arguments into lethal aggression or help criminals use a carrier's gun against them.

Rittenhouse said he had driven into Kenosha to stand guard with other armed men and protect a gas station not far from the courthouse where civil unrest broke out following a protest against the August 23 police shooting of Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man.

Cell phone video showed police shooting Blake seven times in the back while he attempted to enter his vehicle where his three sons were waiting.

As the video went viral, citizens amid Monday's protests set fire to buildings and vehicles while others looted local stores. Police responded with tear gas and less-lethal munitions.

Rittenhouse joined a group of armed men at the gas station. Around 11:45 p.m., police responded to reports of gunshot victims near the gas station. Around the same time, cell phone footage showed a gunman shooting into a crowd of protesters as others chased him. The gunman then walked past police.

A third man injured by the gunfire was transported to a hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth told The New York Times that the investigation into Rosenbaum would focus on whether the shooting happened because of a conflict between protesters and the armed men.

Rittenhouse is set to appear in court Friday for a hearing on extradition to Wisconsin. A GoFundMe campaign has been started to help pay for Rosenbaum and Huber's funeral costs and to help care for the wife and children they both left behind.