The First Amendment met the Second Amendment in June when a Missouri couple were confronted with protestors over police brutality in the wake of the George Floyd murder on May 25 in Minneapolis.

The couple, Mark and Patricia McCloskey, drew firearms on the crowd to defend their home, they said. This happened after the large group of protestors marched past their front gates, proceeded to their mansion, and made threats, according to the McCloskeys in a Fox News interview.

Patricia McCloskey stated that member(s) from the protest group said they were going to kill them, live in their house after they were dead (while pointing to different rooms they would live in), burn down their home, and that threats were made against their dog which was outside the home.

No shootings from the rifle or the handgun that the couple was wielding occurred.

But what did occur were felony charges made by the St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner against the McCloskeys, citing “unlawful use of a weapon.”

The couple’s attorney, Joel J. Schwartz, was quoted in a July 20 Washington Post article saying the charges were disheartening, and he believes, unequivocally, that no crime was committed. He went on to say that he supports the First Amendment right of every citizen to have their voice but that the First Amendment must be balanced with the Second Amendment and Missouri law which entitles people to protect their home and family from potential threat under the “Castle Doctrine Law.”

The prosecutor went one step further beyond the charges; the McCloskeys had their firearms seized. A search warrant was obtained and the guns were seized by law enforcement.

Situations like the one the McCloskeys found themselves in are perhaps why a large group of Second Amendment supporters attended the Mille Lacs County Second Amendment Sanctuary Resolution public hearing at the Historic Courthouse last Tuesday, July 21. Their voices were heard as they exercised their First Amendment rights in defense, or in one case, against, the proposed resolution.

Both Amendments, First and Second, have come under attack as of late. Some reason that “hate speech” incites violence and believe the First Amendment must be revisited. And we’re now in a “cancel culture” where if a group of individuals deems certain words as “hateful,” their livelihoods are canceled.

Of course we know terroristic threats must never be tolerated, but as Americans, we must reject this new form of attack on personal liberties. Whether it’s sending someone to jail over lawfully exercising their Second Amendment rights or canceling someone for disagreement over the choice of their words, we must reject this and stand for liberties.

The group “Human Rights Watch,” in their fight against all forms of repression of speech in the media and around the globe, states: “How any society tolerates those with minority, disfavored, or even obnoxious views will often speak to its performance on human rights more generally.”

The press must remain free to exercise independence, uncontrolled by a government, a political force or social system. This needs to happen in order to maintain transparency for those very entities which the people should dictate, not the powers given within those institutions. In the same manner, individuals must remain free in speech as liberation depends on such. And when our Second Amendment doesn’t exist, we’ve lost our ability to protect ourselves against the most lethal of threats.

I was pleased to see the First Amendment exercised last Tuesday at the Courthouse in a respectful, non-violent way. We don’t know that the outcome would have been the same for the McCloskeys had they not been able to exercise their Second Amendment right.

Traci LeBrun is the editor of the Messenger.

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