Most Americans are aware of their Second Amendment Rights-the right to bear arms. One Missouri couple exercised their right against protesters just to find themselves facing the wrath of the criminal justice system. This dilemma begs many questions, foremostly does the criminal justice system have a right to elevate protestors first amendment rights over innocent property owners second amendment rights? The outcome of this case will set a precedent for how future cases involving self-defense will be determined. As tensions mount, many Americans wonder if they are slowly losing their freedoms.
In St. Louis, a married couple Mark and Patricia McCloskey decided to defend their home against invading protesters last month. The incident occurred on June 28, 2020, when protesters allegedly broke through the couple’s metal gate that was clearly marked with signage indicating that it was private property and trespassing was not allowed. The couple allege they were threatened with harm to their lives and property, when as many as 500 protesters broke down their gate and burst onto their private residence. The couple stands firm in their conviction that they were only doing what was necessary to prevent harm to themselves or their home.
The couple feeling threatened brought out guns and stood guard at the front of their property. Now their acts of self-defense are being determined as unlawful. St. Louis’s prosecutor Kim Gardner has charged the McCloskey’s with felony unlawful use of a weapon. Additionally, the couple has been subjected to a misdemeanor fourth-degree assault charge. Gardner stands by her decision citing the illegal nature of taking out a gun to threaten others. However, she feels the couple should avoid jailtime and will instead advocate for punishments like community service. Proceeding the event, the police responded and removed the gun from the McCloskey’s, after obtaining a search warrant.
Despite the strong arm of the law coming down on this couple, not everyone agrees with the charges against them. Missouri’s Governor supports the couple’s right to protect themselves and their property in view of the situation. He stands firm that protestors are not granted the right to invade someone’s property and thus feels the couple was justified to respond with the threat of lethal force. The governor has even alluded to the fact that he may pardon the couple if they are convicted of the charges against them.
This difficult situation raises many considerations. It is imperative that citizens maintain their right to free speech; however, when does free speech cross over into criminal activity? Should protesters be permitted to loot, destroy, and threaten others all in the name of their first amendment rights? This Missouri couple thought not and exercised their second amendment rights, and now remain in the cross hairs of debate. When studying the bill of rights, should not all rights be equally represented? If they are, should this couple be free of charges with the understanding that they were only doing what was necessary to protect themselves and property?