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What We Know About the McCloskey Case

After generating a whole week's worth of memes and taking the internet by storm, it's worth asking what happened to the McCloskeys. Their unlikely thrust into the public eye, no matter their shortcomings, was faced with the reality of America very quickly: even after a potentially violent encounter has ended, it will be scrutinized for weeks if not years to come. There's so much about the day when two St. Louis attorneys took up arms to defend their home that we know, and so much we don't. As the story has developed, it appears that a bad situation keeps getting worse, for now both of the McCloskeys have been charged with felonies, for defending their lives and homes.

What we know versus what we don't know

It is important to parse out what we know versus what we don't know especially in highly politicized situations like this. We know that the protesters were trespassing on the private property, and that both sides felt threatened. We don't know, for certain, whether or not the protestors broke a gate down to get in. We know that there was a verbal altercation that led to the McCloskeys feeling threatened enough to get armed. We know that the line between protests and riots is heavily blurred by politics, and that there is both political and social spotlights to be gained by exaggerating them. We don't know, completely, what exactly were the intentions and violent capacities of the people on the McCloskey property. This situation is certainly a battleground of opinions, but there are lessons to learn and methods of evaluating the information presented.

A vital tool is to distinguish between understanding an action, and justifying it. It is possible to understand why a person would do something, without coming to the conclusion that it is justified, be it legally or morally.

Understanding the McCloskeys

The events of June 28th are, for the most part, well circulated, at least the broadest details for that matter. When the protest was making its way to the Mayor's house to demand her resignation. In order to do so, it crossed onto a private street, one that included the McCloskey property. The homeowners eventually decided to retrieve weapons from their home, and they were pointed at protestors.

Given the political and social unrest that has constituted 2020, it is easy to understand why the McCloskey couple felt threatened. The riots and protests across the country can be seen as threatening, whether exacerbated by bad faith actors suggesting to take the street violence to the suburbs, or the legitimate concern generated when living near to what has already been targeted, such as a liquor store or politically targeted individual. For those who feel threatened, there is little difference between a protest and a riot. For those in the area, it's within reason to understand why their lives and property could be threatened. People within the crowd are carrying backpacks, which can easily conceal weapons as deadly as firearms, or as destructive as fire-starting tools, and the things shouted by what is seen as a mob are easily understood as threatening. During interviews, the McCloskeys apparently claimed that they were told they would be killed, and their home burned or taken.

Given these details, it is understandable why they chose to arm themselves. Reports across the nation of Police being either unable or outright refusing to answer calls only makes it worse. Even if the Police were able to respond to the altercation, there is no reason to assume they could arrive on scene before the tense situation went bad. When violence breaks out, it happens fast.

McCloskey Status Update

Yet in regards to justification, the world can feel upside down. Technically, the McCloskeys were defending their property in a state which has a castle doctrine providing protections to people on their own property. Had violence broke out, the side of the law would likely have, by its letters, slightly favored the homeowners opposed to those trespassing. Were it the case that the protestors broke down a gate to enter the property, one could reasonably perceive that as breaking the law with ill-intent.

In the same way, the presentation of Mr. and Mrs. McCloskey did not exactly look fearful, and the abominable trigger discipline sent cringes across the country. The couple claimed to be in fear for their lives, and although their demeanor was rather different than hiding in a closet with and ear to 911, it is dangerous, if not foolish to assume that fear must look a certain way. Soldiers, like many others, show bravery in the face of fear, and there is no shortage of people faking or embellishing their distress in order to justify their actions.

However, the McCloskey case did not end there. Later, on July 3rd, another protest assembled outside their home, and this time the couple had hired private security.  On the 10th of July, according to the Associated Press, police entered the house under a warrant, and seized the rifle as if it were involved in a crime. Most recently St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner charged the couple with felonies for unlawful use of a firearm. To clear the air of conjecture: they have been charged, not convicted.

On the other hand, the governor of Missouri, a Mr. Mike Parson suggested that he will pardon the couple. It's not a clear victory for the Second Amendment, as the intent to ignore the rights of the McCloskeys has been made, but there are some lessons to be learned.

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Editor Note: As of 30 July, 2020, it is reported that the Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt is is seeking to dismiss the case.


Where does it go from here?

The situation with the McCloskeys may be outside of our control, but it does have lessons to teach us. First, any use of force will almost certainly include a legal follow up, even if no shots are fired. Second, in highly politicized events, which as 2020 has shown, are beyond prediction, there will certainly be more to consider than merely the direct legal ramifications. It is all the more important to be educated thoroughly in our rights, and how they are observed by our federal, state, and local laws. Finally, this is the perfect example why Concealed Carry Insurance is worth investing in. Here are some of the best options on the market so far:

The display put on by the McCloskeys, even if determined legal, should not be elevated in terms of skill and practice. The handling alone showed, not confidence, but something else. An excellent example of why training is important, for in situations like what took place in St. Louis, a disciplined response with evidence of proactivity in mind and body would have done the couple wonders, in publicity, as well as if the situation had escalated further. It is good to see that Americans are willing to stand up and defend themselves and their property, for indeed, their lives are first and foremost, their own responsibility.

Where do we go from here? This conflict appears at first to be political. It looks like the arguments common to what has come from 2020: election year tension. But there is a greater undergirding question that is on the table. What is the state of the Second Amendment when defending one's self does not end when the immediate threat of violence has passed.

Update as of October 6th, 2020.

The case of the McCloskeys continues to ride highs and lows, as the couple took a stand to distribute signed postcards featuring the St. Louis couple bearing arms on June 28th before a crowd of what are being referenced to as protestors by the press. Late in the day on Tuesday, October 6th, the McCloskeys were indicted by Grand Jury for for felony counts of unlawful use of a weapon and evidence tampering. While the situation that started this legal preceding certainly drew division, the events following have only increased the atmosphere of activism fogging reporting. As of now, it will be left to the courts as well as the election to see how this case pans out.

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