This week, the nation witnessed two new examples of organized, armed violence. On Monday, armed protestors assaulted Idaho State police officers and smashed a glass door as they pushed into the Statehouse Legislative Gallery. The protesters followed a pattern of armed confrontation similar to those that erupted in Michigan last April. In both cases, protestors were angry at state officials over measures put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The second violent confrontation turned deadly when armed vigilantes confronted unarmed demonstrators. The demonstrators were protesting the shooting of an unarmed black man. Seventeen-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, part of a self-proclaimed militia group, opened fire on unarmed demonstrators with what appeared to a semi-automatic rifle. Rittenhouse killed at least two people and shot another.
In both confrontations, police gave in to the armed militants. By backing down, the police gave tacit approval to vigilantism over law and order. In the second incident, police explicitly condoned vigilante actions. A society based on guns and roaming gangs of terrorists will only lead to further escalation of violence and the continued curtailing of democracy.