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Rep. Smith introduces bill after St. Louis attorneys charged
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Rep. Smith introduces bill after St. Louis attorneys charged

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Jason Smith

Congressman Jason Smith

On Tuesday, Congressman Jason Smith (R-MO), one of the authors of the Missouri castle doctrine legislation, introduced the American Family and Private Property Defense Act.

This legislation guarantees American families have the right to defend their home and their private property. It comes after St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner filed charges against Mark and Patricia McCloskey on Monday night.

Specifically, Smith’s legislation prevents a U.S. citizen from being prosecuted for the use of force against an intruder as long as that force was used to protect themselves, another individual, or private property. It allows force to be use without first retreating.

Smith — who helped to write the state of Missouri’s castle doctrine laws when he was a member of the Missouri General Assembly — said recent events show how critical a bill like this is.

“The Missouri castle doctrine laws clearly support the actions of the McCloskeys. Gardner’s politically motivated charges are an abuse of power we can’t let stand. This bill sends a message to rouge prosecutors like Ms. Gardner that the American people have a right to defend their homes, their families, and their property,” said Congressman Smith. “It allows American families to take all steps necessary to protect themselves from intruders or trespassers without facing the fear of prosecution.”

“If Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi gets her way, we would be defunding law enforcement across this country. At that point, what’s left? What stands between a parent and someone wanting to come onto their property and do harm to their family? We need to let these families know that they have a right to defend themselves, to keep their families safe, and the security to know they won’t be wrongly targeted with political prosecutions for their actions.

"The American Family and Private Property Defense Act will ensure all Americans are able to protect themselves, loved ones, and property without fearing legal action.”

Smith’s legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and was referred to the House Judiciary Committee where it awaits further consideration.

According to the Associated Press, President Donald Trump believes St. Louis’ top prosecutor committed an “egregious abuse of power” in charging a couple who displayed guns during a protest against racial injustice last month outside their mansion, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Tuesday.

McEnany appeared on the Fox News program Fox & Friends and was asked about St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s decision to file felony unlawful use of a weapon charges against Mark and Patricia McCloskey. The white couple in their early 60s are both lawyers.

The McCloskeys were not arrested but were issued summons to appear in court. Their first hearing is scheduled for Aug. 31.

Gardner, St. Louis' first Black circuit attorney, said in an interview with The Associated Press that she will not seek jail time but will recommend a diversion program such as community service.

Protesters were marching to the home of Mayor Lyda Krewson when they veered onto a private street where the McCloskey’s $1.15 million home sits. Mark McCloskey came out with a semi-automatic rifle and his wife emerged with a semi-automatic handgun, according to a probable cause statement filed in support of the charges. No shots were fired, but Gardner said their actions risked creating a violent situation.

Mark McCloskey, on Tucker Carlson’s show Monday night on Fox News, questioned why he and his wife were charged but protesters were not. “It’s a bizarre, upside-down world,” McCloskey said.

Missouri Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a brief asking that the charges be dismissed under the state’s “castle doctrine,” which allows homeowners to protect their property with deadly force if necessary. Republican Gov. Mike Parson has said he will likely pardon the couple.

The demonstration on June 28 was among many in St. Louis and across the country in the nearly two months since George Floyd's death in Minneapolis.

A police report said the couple heard a commotion and saw people break an iron gate marked with “No Trespassing” and “Private Street” signs. A protest leader, the Rev. Darryl Gray, says the gate was open and protesters didn’t damage it.

The probable statement said that after Mark McCloskey came out with his rifle, his wife emerged, yelling at protesters to “go” and pointing her gun at them. Protesters feared “being injured due to Patricia McCloskey’s finger being on the trigger, coupled with her excited demeanor,” the statement said.

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