What To Know Today

Rittenhouse trial judge sides with defense, dismisses illegal possession charge. Kyle Rittenhouse was charged with illegally carrying a gun as a minor during last year’s shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, which took place while he was 17. But on Friday, Judge Bruce Schroeder said it was unclear what the state gun possession law actually prohibited. Ahead of yesterday’s closing arguments, Schroeder agreed with the defense’s argument that the law would only have prohibited Rittenhouse from carrying a short-barreled rifle. After prosecutors acknowledged the gun was not short-barreled, the judge dismissed the count, which was thought to be the easiest of six charges to secure a conviction for and the only one to which Rittenhouse admitted. The jury is now weighing the remaining charges, which include two counts of homicide for the two people Rittenhouse killed.

Alex Jones has lost all four defamation suits brought by Sandy Hook families. For years, the far-right conspiracy theorist spread lies and misinformation about the 2012 shooting. On Monday, a Connecticut state judge ruled Jones was liable by default because he would not turn over documents the court requested related to a suit from the families of eight people killed. Last month, a Texas judge ruled in favor of the families of two other victims in three similar defamation suits. In both states next year, juries are set to decide how much Jones owes the families, on top of court costs. “What kind of person calls a mass shooting a hoax?” It’s a question we explored three years after Sandy Hook.

Judge in Arbery trial dismisses defense calls for a mistrial, calls defense attorney’s comment “reprehensible.” Last week, a lawyer for the three white men on trial for killing Ahmaud Arbery while he was jogging in February 2020 objected to the presence of Black pastors, including the reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, in the courtroom as unfairly swaying the jury. Judge Timothy Walmsley forcefully rejected that call, as well as a request for a mistrial prompted by him briefly dismissing the jury from court after Arbery’s mother cried in the gallery.

Beto O’Rourke is running for Texas governor. He doesn’t seem to be shying away from guns. “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47,” he said during a Democratic primary debate while running for president last year. The message is likely to be a tough sell in gun-friendly Texas, but O’Rourke addressed the topic head-on in a Texas Tribune interview about his campaign against arch-conservative incumbent Governor Greg Abbott. “I think most Texans can agree — maybe all Texans can agree — that we should not see our friends, our family members, our neighbors, shot up with weapons that were originally designed for use on a battlefield,” O’Rourke told The Texas Tribune.

Man who brought a cache of weapons near the Capitol on January 6 pleads guilty. The 71-year-old Alabama resident admitted to bringing five loaded handguns and 11 Molotov cocktails to Capitol Hill. He pleaded guilty to one federal count of possessing an unregistered destructive device and one D.C. count of carrying a handgun without a license in exchange for having prosecutors drop 15 local charges for violating D.C. gun and ammunition laws.

Data Point

6 — the number of students who were shot yesterday in a park near their high school in Aurora, Colorado. All suffered non-life-threatening injuries, while police were still searching for a perpetrator and motive. [The New York Times]