I think that you are probably right, @Dwight Ward . Since they were standing out there with unloaded weapons, they obviously had NO intention of hurting anyone, and hoped that they could scare the rioters off until the police could get there. They had been seeing the rioters burning and looting their city for the last few days, and had every reason to think that the angry and violent mob would target them next. Apparently, the rioters were also yelling threats at the McCluskeys, and when the police could not get there, they tried to scare the mob away. There is no way to know what would have happened if the McCluskys had not gone out with their weapons. The rioters might have vandalized or torched their house, or they might have gone on down the street. I think that since one of the state congressmen was marching with the rioters, this is part of the reason that they are trying to make the mob look innocent.