By now all America knows Mark and Patricia McCloskey from the video showing the St. Louis couple holding legal firearms as they defended themselves and their home from a crowd of protesters trespassing on their property. A politically motivated prosecutor on Monday charged the couple with unlawful use of a weapon.
The felony count is because they pointed their weapons at protesters. Mr. McCloskey said he did so because he was “scared for my life,” and that of his wife. No shots were fired. Yet now prosecutor Kim Gardner is charging them on grounds they made the trespassers fear for their safety.
The good news is that there’s been plenty of official blowback. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson tweeted that “We will not allow law-abiding citizens to be targeted for exercising their constitutional rights.” He has promised a pardon if they’re convicted.
Attorney General Eric Schmitt is working to get the case dismissed, noting that, in addition to the U.S. and Missouri constitutions, Missouri law recognizes the “castle doctrine.” This allows residents to use force against intruders, including deadly force, based on self-defense and the notion that your home is your castle.
Ms. Gardner contends that those who surrounded the McCloskeys were “peaceful, unarmed protesters,” and the couple were therefore interfering in the crowd’s First Amendment rights. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to Ms. Gardner that the guns they carried may be a reason events didn’t turn violent. “I really thought it was Storming the Bastille, that we would be dead and the house would be burned and there was nothing we could do about it,” Mr. McCloskey told KSDK in an interview.
Even if the charges are dismissed, or the McCloskeys are pardoned after being convicted, again we have a public official responsible for upholding law and order wink at a mob while treating law-abiding citizens as criminals. If police cannot be counted on to deal with mobs, it’s even more vital that law-abiding Americans are free to exercise their Second Amendment right to protect themselves.
This editorial was first published July 21 in The Wall Street Journal.
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