Hawley Seeks Civil Rights Probe of Confiscation of St. Louis Couple’s Firearms

Hawley Seeks Civil Rights Probe of Confiscation of St. Louis Couple’s Firearms
Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) attends the confirmation hearing of Attorney General nominee William Barr at the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 15, 2019. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)
Mark Tapscott

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) is calling for Attorney General William Barr to open a Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation to determine if St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s confiscation of firearms owned by Mark and Patricia McCloskey violated their civil rights.

The McCloskeys became national figures June 28, when hundreds of protesters poured into their private, gated community while allegedly threatening to kill the couple and burn down their home.

“When help from the police or from nearby security failed to arrive, this family, the McCloskeys, did what any reasonable person would do: they retrieved their lawfully owned firearms and defended their property and their lives,” Hawley says in a July 15 letter to Barr.

A DOJ spokesman didn't immediately respond to an emailed request by The Epoch Times for comment.

St. Louis police reported multiple protesters were also armed; no shots were fired in the incident.

“We were told that we would be killed, our home burned, and our dog killed. We were all alone facing an angry mob,” Mark McCloskey told police.

“Unfortunately, this family is facing new threats, not from demonstrators but from the local government," Hawley writes. "St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner is now threatening to prosecute not the trespassers, but the McCloskeys, and she is using the powers of her office to target them.

“Her office has seized their firearms, and police have applied for warrants in the case, with an indictment believed to be imminent. This is an unacceptable abuse of power and threat to the Second Amendment, and I urge you to consider a federal civil rights investigation into the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office to determine whether this investigation and impending prosecution violates this family’s constitutional rights.”

The St. Louis incident followed the May 25 death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. The death of Floyd, a black man, at the hands of a white officer, sparked a nationwide wave of demonstrations, violent protests, and repeated confrontations between local law enforcement, National Guardsmen, and radical members of Antifa, a far-left group that incites riots, and Black Lives Matter (BLM), a group led by “trained Marxists” calling for the defunding of police across the country.

“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,” writes Hawley, who was Missouri’s attorney general before being elected to the Senate in 2018.

“The only possible motivation for the investigation, then, is a politically motivated attempt to punish this family for exercising their Second Amendment rights," Hawley continues. "Indeed, this is part of a troubling pattern of politically motivated prosecutorial decisions by the St. Louis Circuit Attorney, who has not seen fit to prosecute many violent offenders, and who has expressed hostility to gun rights in the past.

Justice Department Spokeswoman Kerri Kupec told The Epoch Times “we have received and are reviewing Senator Hawley’s letter.”

Gardner, a Democrat, was elected St. Louis circuit attorney in 2016 amid controversy over the heavy financial and organizational support she received from New York financier George Soros, and organizations aligned with him.

As the first black chief prosecutor in St. Louis history, Gardner's tenure has been tumultuous, because of her 2018 indictment of then-Gov. Eric Greitens, a Republican, for felony invasion of privacy in allegedly taking a photograph of his scantily clad girlfriend.

The indictment was withdrawn and Gardner’s chief investigator was subsequently indicted after evidence emerged casting serious doubt on the credibility of the charge against Greitens, who had resigned.

“Investigators now allege the Greitens prosecution, which forced the governor to resign less than two years into his tenure, was built on lies that included perjury and hiding exculpatory evidence that would have helped demonstrate Greitens' innocence, court documents show,” according to Just the News.

“Most significantly, testimony transcripts and court records obtained by Just the News show the woman Gardner built her case around, beautician Katrina Sneed, testified she was asked unsolicited by Gardner’s office to come forward as a witness, and that she was actually reluctant to accuse Greitens because the entire story of a photo on his mobile phone may have been a dream,” Just the News reported.

Contact Mark Tapscott at [email protected]
Mark Tapscott is an award-winning investigative editor and reporter who covers Congress, national politics, and policy for The Epoch Times. Mark was admitted to the National Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Hall of Fame in 2006 and he was named Journalist of the Year by CPAC in 2008. He was a consulting editor on the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Pulitzer Prize-winning series “Other Than Honorable” in 2014.