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Couple pointing guns at protesters unlikely to face charges, law professor says

Could the gun-wielding attorneys find themselves in legal trouble? Not likely, according to one law professor.

ST. LOUIS — Images of two St. Louis lawyers standing in front of their million dollar home, and threatening a large group of protesters with guns, are making headlines around the world. 

There's a lot of speculation about what legal consequences Mark and Patricia McCloskey could face over their reaction to protesters.

In a statement on Monday, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner said she was alarmed that "peaceful protesters were met by guns and a violent assault."

RELATED: ‘We must protect the right to peacefully protest’ | St. Louis circuit attorney releases statement after couple seen pointing guns at protesters

While her office is investigating, the I-Team decided to take a look at the laws surrounding private property and your rights to defend yourself. 

"Some people might say well why didn't they just go back into their homes. You could argue that as a practical matter, but the law says you don't have to retreat," said John Ammann, Professor Emeritus with the Saint Louis University School of Law.

"They have the open carry law in Missouri, that allows them to have their guns in public. We have the Castle Doctrine that says you can defend your house, and your lives and your property and we have the law that says you can stand your ground and you don't need to retreat."

RELATED: What the 'Castle Doctrine' means in Missouri

The McCloskeys told protesters they were on private property and on a private street.

People walk down private streets all the time -- Ammann said that doesn't automatically give a homeowner the right to threaten you with a weapon.

"If a neighbor is having people over for a picnic and they're walking down the street to the neighbor's house, this couple surely can't go on their front yard and point guns at them," said Ammann. "It creates a lot of practical problems if you're if you think that you're the private security guard for the entire neighborhood."

So could the gun-wielding attorneys find themselves in legal trouble?

"If anything were brought against the homeowners, one might consider something like that assault because If you had if you had a protester, who's come forward saying 'the gun was pointed at me. I was in fear for my safety and I didn't do anything wrong'... that this gets into another issue."

Overall, Amman said any charge would be a long shot. 

"The end result might be a there was technically illegal behavior on both sides and 'We're going to come up with a with a plan to deal with it'." said Amman. 

The couple claims at least one protester threatened them with a gun- and that's their ultimate legal defense.

"This is the new frontier of protesting in St. Louis, because a few years ago, you would not have seen the police backing off and the line people to take over entire streets with protest," said Amman.