Missouri’s attorney general is moving to dismiss charges against a gun-wielding St. Louis couple who faced off against Black Lives Matter protesters last month — just hours after local prosecutors announced the charges.
State Attorney General Eric Schmitt said Monday that the “political prosecution” by Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner targeting Mark and Patricia McCloskey would have “a chilling effect on Missourians’ exercising the right to self-defense.”
“The right to keep and bear arms is given the highest level of protection in the Missouri constitution and our laws, which I am charged with protecting,” Schmitt said in a video posted to his Twitter page.
“And yet in the wake of radical calls to defund the police, and with rates of violent crimes skyrocketing each day, the St. Louis circuit attorney filed suit against a St. Louis couple who according to published reports were doing just that — defending the safety of their family and their property.”
“Enough is enough,” he said. “As Missouri’s chief law enforcement officer I simply will not stand by while a Missouri law’s being ignored. That’s why I’m entering this case and seeking dismissal of this case to protect the rights of Missourians to defend themselves and their property.”
The McCloskeys were caught on viral video on June 28 outside their palatial home in the city’s Central West End neighborhood, each holding a weapon while protestors marched down the private road.
The couple said they armed themselves because they feared for their safety.
But Gardner said Monday that she had filed felony weapons possession and fourth-degree assault charges against the pair, saying “it is illegal to wave weapons in a threatening manner” inside the city limits.
Schmitt, however, cited Missouri’s “Castle Doctrine,” a state law that allows residents to use physical force if they believe they or their property is being threatened, saying the statute authorized the McCloskeys “to protect and defend their personal safety and property.”
He said the state is in crisis, and maintained that the last thing it needs is a “divisive decision not based on the law.”