Mark and Patricia McCloskey became internet sensations when they emerged from their home in St. Louis, MO and showed nearby protesters that they were gun owners. Mark wielded his rifle, while his wife Patricia brandished a hand gun. They weren't about to let their home have the same fate as countless businesses across the country that have been burned or looted by rioters in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd.
And yet, on Monday, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner charged the couple with a Class E felony and a misdemeanor, for the unlawful use of a weapon. In her filing, Gardner alleged that the McCloskeys created an unsafe environment for the largely "peaceful, unarmed protesters." She didn't note that Mr. McCloskey said that he heard a man in the crowd click two loaded gun magazines together and say, "you're next."
"Today my office filed charges against Mark and Patricia McCloskey following an incident involving peaceful, unarmed protestors on June 28th," Gardner said in a statement. "It is illegal to wave weapons in a threatening manner at those participating in nonviolent protest, and while we are fortunate this situation did not escalate into deadly force, this type of conduct is unacceptable in St. Louis."
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson rejected her narrative, and told Fox News's Tucker Carlson that the McCloskeys "had every right to protect their property."
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt came to the same conclusion and sought a dismissal of the case the same day that Gardner filed the charges. And if the circuit attorney's office manages to succeed in charging the couple, Schmitt said it could have a "chilling effect" all across the state.
Citizens shouldn’t be targeted for exercising their #2A right to self-defense— Eric Schmitt (@Eric_Schmitt) July 20, 2020
STL prosecutor Kim Gardner is engaged in a political prosecution
As AG I’m entering the case seeking a dismissal & defend all Missourians’ right to protect their lives/property pic.twitter.com/kQLXOAhFIz
According to Schmitt, it should be fairly straightforward because Missouri's Castle Doctrine could not be clearer. The doctrine states that you have a right to defend your life, your family, and your property. Under these circumstances, he noted, "it's not even a crime." So, he added, the fact that Gardner has introduced these charges is "very concerning" and will have "broad implications for Missourians" if they feel they can't exercise their Second Amendment rights.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) also accused Gardner of running a political operation.
In a letter to AG Barr, Senator Hawley calls for a federal civil rights investigation into St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s targeting of the McCloskey family for using firearms to defend themselves & their property against a mob of protestors https://t.co/CCmyq8J72s pic.twitter.com/1o3QAYyzaF— Senator Hawley Press Office (@SenHawleyPress) July 16, 2020
Should the McCloskeys be charged, Gov. Parson said he would quickly issue them a pardon.