As you’ve probably heard by now, Mark and Patricia McCloskey are each being charged with a felony count of unlawful use of a weapon for stepping outside of their home with guns as protesters marched down a private street on their way to the Mayor’s house. Yesterday a new wrinkle was added this story. In order to bring the unlawful use charges against the McCloskeys, police have to verify that the guns actually posed a threat. The McCloskey’s guns were seized but when police tested Patricia McCloskeys silver handgun they found that it would not fire. So an assistant Circuit Attorney ordered the police crime lab to dissemble the gun and then reassembled it so that it could be fired.

The gun Patricia McCloskey waved at protesters was inoperable when it arrived at the St. Louis police crime lab, but a member of Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s staff ordered crime lab experts to disassemble and reassemble it and wrote that it was “readily capable of lethal use” in charging documents filed Monday, 5 On Your Side has learned.

In Missouri, police and prosecutors must prove that a weapon is “readily” capable of lethal use when it is used in the type of crime with which the McCloskeys have been charged.

Assistant Circuit Attorney Chris Hinckley ordered crime lab staff members to field strip the handgun and found it had been assembled incorrectly. Specifically, the firing pin spring was put in front of the firing pin, which was backward, and made the gun incapable of firing, according to documents obtained by 5 On Your Side.

According to the McCloskeys, the incorrect assembly of the gun wasn’t an accident. The same gun had been used as a “prop” in a previous lawsuit and the McCloskeys had rendered it inoperable so that it could be brought into a courtroom. In short, the McCloskeys claim they knew the gun was non-functioning when Patricia McCloskey took it outside that day.

Mark McCloskey appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show earlier this week and was asked about his guns being seized. He mentioned the requirement that police show the gun was capable of lethal use and said, “there will be some revelations that come out about that.” He didn’t say at the time what those revelations would be but in retrospect it’s clear he was alluding to the fact that Mrs. McCloskey’s gun was non-functional.

The McCloskeys’ attorney said of prosecutor’s decision to reassemble the gun and then declare it lethal, “It’s disheartening to learn that a law enforcement agency altered evidence in order to prosecute an innocent member of the community.” The charges brought by St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner probably won’t matter in the end anyway since Missouri Gov. Mike Parson told a radio station this week that he would likely pardon the McCloskey’s if they were convicted.

Two videos to close with. First, NBC 5’s report on the police lab’s reassembly of the gun. Below that is an earlier clip in which a law professor from St. Louis University explains that because the street on which protesters were marching was private property, the McCloskeys were probably within their rights under the state’s castle doctrine to come outside with their guns and demand protesters leave.