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Why did Thomas Binger point AR-15 in court? Attorney flayed for 'Alec Baldwin' moment

Binger dubbed 'graduate of the Alec Baldwin school of gun safety' after pointing loaded AR-15 at court with his finger on the trigger
UPDATED NOV 16, 2021
Prosecutor Thomas Binger points an AR-15 in court on November 15, 2021, at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin. (Sean Krajacic-Pool/Getty Images)
Prosecutor Thomas Binger points an AR-15 in court on November 15, 2021, at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin. (Sean Krajacic-Pool/Getty Images)

It's been a tough few weeks for Thomas Binger. The Assistant District Attorney is facing an uphill battle to secure a conviction in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, made even more difficult by Judge Bruce Schroeder. On November 15, things took a turn for the worse, while Binger was making his closing arguments to the jury. He took up Rittenhouse's AR-15, and pointed it at the court, in clear violation of all gun safety norms, leading the internet to condemn Binger for his lack of basic knowledge.

As we have reported, Binger hasn't exactly been on Judge Schroeder's good graces during the trial. He's gotten into several debates with the judge, some of which escalated into arguments in court during the course of the trial. That led the defense to call for a mistrial, which the judge took under advisement on November 10. It's only added more pressure to Binger, who is facing a massive challenge after Rittenhouse's emotional testimony.


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Binger has sought to portray Rittenhouse as a vigilante, who took matters into his own hands the night he shot Anthony Huber, Joseph Rosenbaum, and Gaige Grosskreutz. To back that up, he's brought to court a lot of video evidence, but so far most experts have agreed he's not done a great job. Despite that, Binger reiterated his stance during closing arguments, once again playing some of the video footage, and then bringing out Rittenhouse's AR-15.

Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger during proceedings in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse on November 12, 2021, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. (Sean Krajacic-Pool/Getty Images)

Reckless actions in court

Ironically, Rittenhouse is on trial for reckless actions, but it was Binger's own that caused a major storm. During closing arguments, he picked up Rittenhouse's AR-15 and swept it across the court while breaking rule number one of firearm safety - never have your trigger on the finger. "That is what provokes this entire incident. When the defendant provokes this incident, he loses the right to self-defense. You cannot claim self-defense against a danger you create," he reportedly told the jury.

But, his arguments were quickly drowned out on social media by the furor of his actions, coming just weeks after Halyna Hutchins was tragically killed on set after Alec Baldwin pulled a similar move. It's unclear if the AR-15 Binger showed off in court was loaded, but either way as many have noted putting your finger on the trigger is not the right thing to do. Most experts agree it's best to treat every firearm as if it's loaded, a lesson Binger clearly missed.

We don't know if he personally checked the weapon before bringing it to court, or if a professional did unload it completely, so social media was quick to pile on the pressure. 

Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger during Kyle Rittenhouse's trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse on November 3, 2021, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. (Sean Krajacic-Pool/Getty Images)

'One of stupidest things I've ever seen'

"And this man is an officer of the court? This graduate of the Alec Baldwin school of gun safety," one person tweeted. Another joked, "This guy just broke 3 out of 4 or 5 gun safety rules. And Kyle's the unsafe one with a gun? I think Binger has been playing a few too many shooter video games." One user memed the moment, commenting, "when they start playing Christmas music before Thanksgiving."




One journalist tweeted, "Rittenhouse prosecutor Thomas Binger putting his finger on the trigger of an AR-15 and pointing at jurists during a trial is maybe one of stupidest goddamn things I've ever seen someone do in a courtroom." Another furious user commented, "This frikin cretin DA THOMAS BINGER should have been jumped on in court for daring to pick up an AR-15 with no bloody clue how to hold a gun! Stripped or not, one does NOT place the finger on the trigger!!!" One person tweeted, "Seems like this prosecutor needs a gun safety class… or be barred from handling firearms due to his recklessness."




It's highly likely the gun was fully stripped and unloaded well before it was brought to court. Nonetheless, given that it's only been a few weeks since the tragedy on the 'Rust' set, the US is quite concerned about gun safety at the moment, and Binger clearly didn't help matters. It's unlikely to have a major impact on the verdict, but the public certainly isn't going to let him forget it.