By Emma Kaden
Recently, a deadly shooting in Florida put “stand your ground” laws back under societal scrutiny. Currently, 24 states have “stand your ground” laws. These laws allow a person to use deadly force without the duty to retreat when they feel their life is in imminent danger. As long as sufficient conditions for self-defense are met, no criminal charges would typically be filed.
The case in question began when a family illegally parked in a handicapped parking space in front of a convenience store. The father, Markeis McGlockton, exited the vehicle and entered the convenience store with his young son. While they were inside, a man with a concealed carry permit, Michael Drejka, approached the parked vehicle and confronted the driver, Brittany Jacobs, about the handicapped space she was parked in. During the confrontation, Glockton exited the store and pushed Drejka to the ground. Drejka, apparently feeling threatened, shot and killed Glockton. Drejka has not been charged with a crime due to Florida’s “stand your ground” law.
Coverage of the incident has created a maelstrom over the morality of “stand your ground” laws. However, there is a lot more to this story than meets the eye. Some claim that, because Glockton began to back away after pushing Drejka to the ground, there was no longer a need for self-defense, and thus the “stand your ground” law is simply an excuse for murder. Others claim that Drejka’s use of deadly force was justified under Florida’s “stand your ground” statute, given that he was physically attacked.
What is truly troubling, though, is how few people have attempted to see the full picture—and to become conscious of their own biases. The man shot was black, and the man who shot him was white. Does that make a difference to you? The person who illegally parked in the handicapped space was a woman. Does that change your viewpoint? Jacobs claims this incident is more tragic because her son witnessed his father’s fatal shooting. Yet she is silent on her son witnessing his father assaulting Drejka.
Should all of this information impact your conclusion on the legitimacy of “stand your ground” laws? There are many factors that comprise this story, yet the focus is almost always placed on the law that shields Drejka from criminal charges. A similar case caused nationwide uproar when George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin and was acquitted of all criminal charges by a jury in 2013.
Self-defense laws should not be the issue under scrutiny. Rather, Drejka’s circumstance provides a moral and ethical issue for Americans to consider. Not only that, but it gives Americans an opportunity to learn about themselves and others.
Go online and watch the security footage of the altercation. Read a variety of sources on what happened. Analyze all the facts from the case. Discuss the events with your friends and family. Perhaps then you’ll understand why the country is so divided at this moment.
Maybe it will help you understand why self-defense laws are not the problem. It’s not imperative that you run to your local senator’s office and beg them to support gun control laws. However, it is imperative that you consider why violence, especially fatal shootings, occurs in the first place. Confronting your biases and considering all perspectives is the best way to engage in civil discourse and make progress on such hot-button topics.