by WorldTribune Staff, July 13, 2020
A dozen Republican members of Congress warned of a “chilling effect on the entire nation” after the Second Amendment rights of a Missouri couple were apparently infringed when a rifle and handgun were confiscated by authorities after they confronted so-called protesters who had entered their gated St. Louis neighborhood.
Local police executed a search warrant on the home of Mark and Patricia McCloskey on Friday and confiscated the firearms.
In a letter to Attorney General William Barr, the Republican lawmakers claimed that any charges filed against the couple would have “a chilling effect” on an American populace whose rights to bear arms are guaranteed in the Second Amendment.
“At this crucial time in history, our nation needs the Department of Justice to exert strong leadership to ensure that none of our constitutional protections are eroded by mob rule,” the lawmakers wrote to Barr. “Charges against this couple will have a chilling effect on the entire nation, sending the message that American citizens no longer have the right to protect themselves at their own homes.”
Signing the letter were Reps. Louis Gohmert of Texas; Mo Brooks of Alabama; Greg Steube of Florida; Brian Babin of Texas; Paul Gosar of Arizona; Alex Mooney of West Virginia; Andy Harris of Maryland; Ted Budd of North Carolina; Steve King of Iowa; Steve Watkins of Kansas; Jody Hice of Georgia; and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said the prosecutor in the McCloskey case, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner, has “a record of making politically motivated decisions not based on the law.”
“Under Missouri law, under the Castle Doctrine, an individual has really expansive authority to protect their own lives, their home, and their property. I think the story to watch here is the local prosecutor, Kim Gardner,” Schmitt said during a Friday appearance on Fox News.
“Kim Gardner has an abysmal record in prosecuting violent crime, has recently released and been complicit in the release of dozens and dozens of inmates who have been charged with violent crimes, and has a record of making politically motivated decisions not based on the law,” he added. “So, this is certainly something to watch.”
In a statement on June 29, Gardner said that protesters had First Amendment rights that needed to be protected from “intimidation or threat of deadly force,” and said any such behavior would “not be tolerated.”
Schmitt said that he doesn’t see the McCloskeys actions as unlawful because the protesters were on a private street.
“One important factor here is this was a private street. This was not a public street. These individuals were on their way to the mayor’s house, actually, which has been vandalized several times. This was on a private street, and if you listen to the McCloskeys, they felt threatened, that they were going to be attacked, and that it was made known to them,” he said.
Schmitt was also critical of Gardner for releasing 36 suspected rioters who rampaged through St. Louis riots following George Floyd’s death.
“In a stunning development, our office has learned that every single one of the St. Louis looters and rioters arrested were released back onto the streets by local prosecutor Kim Gardner,” Schmitt tweeted at the time.
The lawyer for the McCloskeys told KSDK on Friday that he does not believe the couple will face any charges in connection with the June incident, and said he is trying to arrange a meeting with the office of Gardner.
If they do face charges and are convicted, they would likely get probation or be required to perform community service, a law professor at St. Louis University told KSDK.
“There’s very little likelihood that the McCloskeys would see any jail time or prison time on these kind of charges,” Professor John Ammann told the station.