Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the St. Louis couple who displayed their firearms as protesters marched past their home in a private community last month, still haven’t officially been charged with any crime, but it’s clear that St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner is hoping to bring charges soon. The pair had a search warrant served on them last week, and police confiscated the rifle and inoperable handgun that the couple brought outside their home during the protest. On Wednesday, police confirmed that they had presented an “unlawful use of a weapon” case to the Circuit Attorney’s office, and charges could come as early as today.
In the meantime, U.S. Senator Josh Hawley is calling for a federal civil rights investigation into Gardner’s handling of the case. In a letter to Attorney General Bill Barr, Hawley says that Gardner’s investigation is an “unacceptable abuse of power and threat to the Second Amendment”.
“There is no question under Missouri law that the McCloskeys had the right to own and use their firearms to protect themselves from threatened violence, and that any criminal prosecution for these actions is legally unsound. The only possible motivation for the investigation, then, is a politically motivated attempt to punish this family for exercising their Second Amendment rights.”
Gardner has fired back at Hawley, Missouri Gov. Brad Parson, and President Donald Trump, telling the Washington Post death threats and racial abusethat she’s received as the McCloskey’s story has been amplified by politicians. Calling the threats a “modern day night ride,” the prosecutor added that for “the president to participate in it, in the larger context of racism and cronyism, is scary.”
I believe that any charges Gardner might bring against the McCloskeys will be motivated by politics far more than any attempt at justice, but there’s absolutely no excuse for threatening the life of a prosecutor. Period.
There’s also no justification for Gardner to accuse the president, Missouri’s governor, and one of its senators from acting like a 2020 version of the Klan for speaking out in support of the McCloskeys. In fact, that wild accusation is likely to open Gardner up to more complaints that she’s politicizing the incident at the McCloskey home at the expense of the facts.
The governor on Tuesday suggested he wanted Gardner removed from office, saying the state legislature should consider ways to remove local elected officials in future legislative sessions.
“We’ve got to explain to him why it’s very difficult for an elected official in this state, for a governor, to remove somebody from office, or what powers you have as a governor,” Parson said of Trump at the briefing. “I don’t want to make it sound like he’s going to come in and remove somebody from office, but I’ll guarantee you that the president’s focused on what’s happening here.”
Gardner said Missouri officials, such as U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley and state Attorney General Eric Schmitt, and Trump “are all using their political platforms to tell a locally elected prosecutor what to do. That is dangerous … Why is it okay to dehumanize me, to put my life, my office’s life, as well as my family, in danger?”
Politicians weighing in on a case doesn’t dehumanize Gardner, nor does it put anyone’s life in danger. Again, there’s absolutely no justification for threatening Gardner because she’s investigating the McCloskeys, but there’s also no justification in Gardner proclaiming that the threats are the fault of Republican officials. People are responsible for their own actions, whether we’re talking about protesters, violent agitators, legal gun owners, prosecutors, senators, presidents, or keyboard commandoes.
This entire situation has turned into a three-ring circus, and I’m not sure that the tent is coming down anytime soon. Gardner is clearly positioning herself as the victim of GOP politicians, and given the fact that she’s running for re-election this year, why wouldn’t she try to use the McCloskey case and the reaction to it for her own political advantage? I’m not saying it’s the right thing to do, but it shouldn’t come as a big surprise.