bookmark_borderMark and Patricia McCloskey have every right to defend themselves

In a now viral video, a husband and wife in St. Louis, Missouri named Mark and Patricia McCloskey decided to defend themselves and their home against a large group of Black Lives Matter protesters. The mob of protesters broke through a gate and marched down the private street where the McCloskeys’ home is located. In response, Mark and Patricia pointed guns at the mob from their porch.

Mark McCloskey defended his and Patricia’s actions in an interview with KMOV-TV:

“It was like the storming of the Bastille, the gate came down and a large crowd of angry, aggressive people poured through. I was terrified that we’d be murdered within seconds. Our house would be burned down, our pets would be killed. A mob of at least 100 smashed through the historic wrought iron gates of Portland Place, destroying them, rushed towards my home where my family was having dinner outside and put us in fear for our lives. One fellow standing right in front of me pulled out two pistol magazines, clicked them together and said, ‘You’re next.’ That was the first death threat we got that night.”

The McCloskeys’ attorney added that they are both personal injury lawyers who represent victims of police brutality, and they actually support the message of BLM.

Despite the fact that this looks like a clear case of self-defense, numerous people have alleged that the McCloskeys’ conduct constitutes “assault” and have demanded that they be punished.

For example, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner announced that her office would be investigating. She said: “I am alarmed at the events that occurred over the weekend, where peaceful protesters were met by guns and a violent assault. We must protect the right to peacefully protest, and any attempt to chill it through intimidation or threat of deadly force will not be tolerated.”

Attorney Don Calloway tweeted that Mark McCloskey “committed an assault” and “should be arrested and charged with assault immediately.” And Attorney Mark Zaid tweeted that “their actions should have consequences.”

Attorney Eric Banks told St. Louis Public Radio: “You cannot act with impunity, come out of your house with an automatic weapon, and point it in the direction of the people coming down the street. It’s just beyond the pale.”

Sunny Hostin, co-host of The View, said: “If there’s a peaceful protest and you feel threatened, I don’t know why you decide to go outside of your home and brandish a weapon. Don’t you stay inside of your home and call the police? So it just seems to me that there is quite a disconnect there, because what they did was very aggressive. There wasn’t a need to brandish a weapon in a threatening way.”

There is a petition titled, “Have the McCloskeys disbarred for Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.” The organizer of the petition writes that the McCloskeys “need to be held accountable.”

According to St. Louis Public Radio, the Missouri Bar Association has, indeed, received dozens of calls demanding that the McCloskeys’ law licenses be revoked, and cyberbullies have left thousands of negative reviews on their law firm’s Facebook page.

This is ridiculous. First of all, the McCloskeys did not commit assault. Anyone with even a basic understanding of logic would agree that in order for an action to constitute assault, something needs to actually touch the person allegedly being assaulted. The McCloskeys did not fire their guns. They did not go over to the protesters and hit anyone over the head with the guns. Neither Mark nor Patricia nor either of the guns nor any bullets made any physical contact with any of the protesters. Therefore, no assault took place.

Second, the protesters were in the wrong because they trespassed on private property. Anyone who trespasses on private property is automatically the aggressor and bears 100% of the responsibility for any confrontation or conflict that takes place as a result. In an article arguing that the McCloskeys are “screwed, and rightfully so,” Jim Swift at the The Bulwark writes: “Members of that community are not empowered to enforce trespass laws by pointing guns at unarmed people. This is why you call the police… Crimes committed on private property are not exempted from legal scrutiny.” But the McCloskeys did call police. Additionally, contrary to Swift’s claim, people do have the right to enforce trespass laws by pointing guns at unarmed people. The fact that the trespassers are unarmed is irrelevant. The only relevant fact is that they trespassed on someone else’s property. Therefore, they deserved to have guns pointed at them. Anyone who trespasses on someone else’s property deserves whatever treatment the property owner deems necessary to defend his or her property. The fact that the protesters trespassed makes the McCloskeys’ actions not a crime.

Finally, those demanding the McCloskeys’ arrest point out that under Missouri law, it constitutes “unlawful use of weapons” to “exhibit, in the presence of one or more persons, any weapon readily capable of lethal use in an angry or threatening manner.” But the mob of protesters were clearly acting in a more threatening way than either Mark or Patricia McCloskey. According to Mark, nearly 100 angry protesters broke through a gate, and one pulled out pistol magazines and said “you’re next.” Even if you don’t believe his version of events, the number of protesters and the mere fact that they were trespassing on private property should be enough to consider the McCloskeys innocent of any criminal offense. Whenever you have a conflict with two people on one side and hundreds of people on the other side, the two people are almost always in the right. How could a crowd of protesters be intimidated or threatened by two individuals? Hundreds of people are inherently more intimidating and threatening than two people, regardless of who is armed and who isn’t.

In conclusion, the McCloskeys did not commit assault or unlawful use of weapons. They did not intimidate anyone and they were not aggressive; they defended themselves against an intimidating mob. They should not be arrested or disbarred. They do not “need to be held accountable” because they did nothing wrong. The only consequences that their actions should have are positive ones… such as this salute from yours truly. Thank you, Mark and Patricia, for standing up to the mob and providing a good example of self-defense for all Americans.

bookmark_borderProtests against authoritarianism: it’s not about haircuts

I often see causes that I believe in dismissed as petty or unimportant. People who object to their rights being violated are accused of “whining.” What the people who make these types of arguments do not understand is that it’s not usually about the specific thing, but about the general principle behind it.

An example of this is the recent protests against authoritarian measures designed to slow the spread of Covid-19. The other day, while listening to the radio, I heard a medical ethicist who was being interviewed refer to these protesters as “the people who want haircuts.” Separately, in a tweet that I saw today, someone described these protesters as “whining ’cause the barbershop closed during a pandemic.”

These criticisms completely miss the point. It’s not about barbershops. It’s not about nail salons, or restaurants, or malls, or gyms, or parks, or casinos, or even churches (although those who argue that their religious freedom is being violated by the lockdown orders have an excellent point). It’s about individual liberty. It’s about the principle that freedom should not be sacrificed for the sake of safety. It’s about the principle that individuals should be able to make their own decisions about their own lives and to decide for themselves what amount of risk they are willing to take.

Supporters of gun rights face similar criticisms. We are called “gun fetishists” and “gun kissers,” and ridiculed for being irrationally obsessed with our “murder toys.” But it’s not about the guns. I have never owned a gun and have only used one a couple times, but it would be difficult to find a more ardent supporter of gun rights than me. Just like with the lockdown protests, it’s about the principle that freedom should not be sacrificed for safety. It’s about the principle that an object should not be banned, or made more difficult to obtain, simply because some people choose to misuse it. It’s about the principle that the correct response to a crime is to punish the person who did it, not to punish innocent people by taking their freedom away.

These moral principles are important. Without them, people would not have any freedom at all. Barbershops and guns are just examples of instances to which the moral principles apply. Personally, I can do without a gun and I can do without a haircut. But the government should not be able to take the freedom of owning a gun or getting a haircut away from people. Once a moral principle is violated in one case, there is nothing to stop it from being violated in other cases as well. Think about that before accusing protesters of “whining.”

bookmark_borderVictory for gun rights in Massachusetts

An awesome victory for Second Amendment Rights took place today in my home state of Massachusetts. U.S. District Court Judge Douglas Woodlock issued a preliminary injunction allowing gun stores to open beginning on Saturday! Governor Charlie Baker had ordered them to close along with all other “non-essential” businesses as part of the state’s lockdown measures to fight Covid-19. This legal victory is the result of a lawsuit filed against Baker and his administration by a coalition of gun rights groups and individuals, including Firearms Policy Coalition, Commonwealth Second Amendment, and Second Amendment Foundation.

According to Judge Woodlock, the forced closure of gun stores amounted to an “improper burden” on people’s Second Amendment rights. “There’s no justification here between the goals of the emergency declared by the Commonwealth and the burdening of the constitutional rights of the defendants in this narrow area,” he said. “I have enough information to say, in this very small corner of this emergency, we don’t surrender our constitutional rights. These plaintiffs… have constitutional rights that deserve respect and vindication. And it becomes necessary for a court to do that.”

He also said: “There may be, in the background, a distaste or a lack of enthusiasm for the firearms industry in Massachusetts among political leaders. They’re entitled to their views as well. They just can’t transgress constitutional rights.”

Beginning on Saturday, gun stores can open for business between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. as long as they operate by appointment only and make sure customers stand 6 feet apart.

“The citizens of Massachusetts have been deprived of their right to acquire arms for defense of hearth and home for too long during a time where it is most critical,” said Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) Director of Legal Strategy Adam Kraut.

FPC President Brandon Combs said, “State and local governments cannot suspend the Constitution and its guarantee of fundamental human rights. Individuals have a human right to acquire firearms and ammunition for self-defense, and the need for self-defense is especially important during uncertain times. This important victory means people in the Bay State can exercise their right to keep and bear arms.”

This ruling affirms the fact that no pandemic or emergency of any kind should cancel out people’s fundamental rights. Thank you to the plaintiffs who filed this lawsuit and to Judge Woodlock for making the right ruling.

bookmark_borderGetting rid of guns at the Olympics is a terrible idea

After the New Zealand shooting, I saw an article by sports journalist Alan Abrahamson titled, “At the Olympics: no more guns,” in which he argues exactly what the title would suggest. Abrahamson says that the International Olympic Committee should get rid of shooting, which has been part of the Summer Olympics since 1896, as well as possibly modern pentathlon and biathlon as well.

“The Olympics is about something bigger than each of us and all of us,” he writes. “A higher cause, if you will. Shooting is not that.” Shooting should be eliminated, he says, “as a matter of promoting the best of humankind.”

I could not disagree more.

Getting rid of shooting at the Olympics is just another example of prioritizing safety over freedom, another example of punishing all gun owners for the actions of an individual murderer. Punishing innocent people does not represent the best of humankind and is not a higher cause that anyone should aspire to.

As for Abrahamson’s claim that the inclusion of shooting and biathlon “normalizes and glamorizes the use of firearms,” well… there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s no reason why the use of firearms should be viewed as abnormal in any way, and there’s nothing wrong with positively portraying skilled marksmanship and responsible firearms use.

“A gun inherently is a violent instrument,” Abrahamson writes. Although acknowledging that swords and bows and arrows (which are also used in Olympic sports) can be violent instruments, he claims “a firearm is different.”

But it really isn’t. Guns, swords, and bows and arrows can all be used for evil purposes. In and of themselves, however, they do not hurt anyone. All types of weapons are simply tools that can be used for evil or good. Guns are more powerful and efficient tools than lower-tech weapons, but that does not make them morally bad or worthy of being singled out.

Abrahamson compares the potential elimination of guns to the change from shooting real pigeons at the 1900 Olympics in Paris to clay pigeons. “In the 21st century,” he writes, “we have to ask – why?” But the question that should be asked with respect to having guns in the Olympics is not “why” but “why not?” Guns do not hurt anyone by existing. Unlike in years past when real birds were killed, today’s competitive shooters do not hurt anyone by practicing their sport. The burden of proof should be on those seeking to get rid of guns, not those seeking to keep them.

Anyone who truly believes in the Olympic values of “excellence, friendship, respect and, by extension, tolerance,” would welcome the inclusion of a wide variety of sports, including shooting. Every sport is going to have detractors for one reason or another, and the beautiful thing is that no one is forced to watch or participate in a sport that he or she does not like. It is wrong for competitive shooters to be deprived of a chance to compete on a world stage, and Olympic fans such as myself to be deprived of the chance to watch amazing contests of marksmanship and skill, because of some people’s personal dislike of guns.

The right thing to do in response to a mass shooting or other tragedy is to punish and blame the person who did it, not to blame the weapon or punish innocent fans and athletes.

H/T: Firearms Policy Coalition Facebook page

bookmark_borderGun rights supporters are not prostitutes

In today’s Boston Globe, Kevin Cullen wrote what is possibly the most offensive column that has ever been written, by any author, in any newspaper or publication.

“If only we really could throw a red challenge flag in the Congress to demand that the paid prostitutes for the NRA would be forced to sit and watch a ceaseless loop of video, replaying every school shooting since Columbine,” he writes. “Maybe a long, extended viewing of this madness, like a video waterboarding, would persuade the frauds in Congress to do their duty.”

He accuses members of Congress of “taking NRA money like gimlet-eyed hookers” and calls people who support the Second Amendment “morally bankrupt,” “utterly corrupt,” and “as nuts as Nikolas Cruz.”

It is infuriating to read and hear again and again, in newspapers, online, and on TV, these repeated personal attacks on people who support gun rights. Some people believe that the answer to mass shootings is to pass laws restricting individual rights in order to make our society safer; some (including myself) believe that individual rights come first. Regardless of what you believe, there is absolutely no reason to call people who hold different opinions “prostitutes” or “hookers” or to suggest that they be subjected to torture. This type of language is beyond offensive and unacceptable.

Enough with the all-too-common assumption that members of Congress who oppose new gun control laws are acting either out of cowardice, or because of donations from the NRA. Has it ever occurred to you that maybe, just maybe, it’s possible for another person to actually hold an opinion that is different from your own? As difficult as it is to believe, some members of Congress actually believe that their duty is to uphold individual rights, not to sacrifice them in the name of safety. As shocking as this may be, it is possible for a human being to engage in deliberate, rational, independent thought and arrive at a belief that is different from yours. The fact that someone has different moral beliefs than you does not make them insane, corrupt, or morally bankrupt (sticking to one’s beliefs in the face of insults and criticism is the exact opposite of morally bankrupt), and it certainly doesn’t make them a prostitute.