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Deadly Florida Shooting Illuminates Problems With Controversial Stand Your Ground Law

July 23, 2018

Last week, Markeis McGlockton was shot and killed in Clearwater, Florida amidst a confrontation with another man about a parking spot. The following day, the local sheriff announced that the shooter would not be arrested or charged with a crime, arguing that the use of deadly force fell within the boundaries of the state’s controversial Stand Your Ground law. As you continue to report on this case, here’s what you need to know about this dangerous law.

Stand Your Ground has a disproportionate effect on communities of color in Florida. Research indicates that Florida Stand Your Ground cases are half as likely to lead to a conviction when the victim is a minority. Additionally, national data shows that when white shooters kill black victims, the shootings are deemed justifiable 11 times more frequently than when the shooter is black and the victim is white.

In 2017, the Florida legislature and Gov. Rick Scott expanded Stand Your Ground. Prior to 2017, Florida law already gave untrained civilians more leeway to shoot than the U.S. military gives soldiers in war zones. In 2017, the state legislature and Gov. Scott passed an expansion of this dangerous policy. The new law forces the state to prove to a judge that a shooter acted unlawfully before the state can even bring a case to trial.

The NRA was instrumental in passing and expanding Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. Marion Hammer – the NRA’s chief lobbyist in Florida – created Florida’s original Stand Your Ground law, the first in the country. Hammer has argued that before the law existed, innocent people were “being arrested, prosecuted, and punished for exercising self-defense that was lawful under the Constitution and Florida law.” When pressed to provide examples of such cases, she was unable to.

Stand Your Ground laws are unnecessary and ineffective. Traditionally self-defense laws give a person the right to defend themselves while recognizing that it’s always best to avoid killing someone, if possible. These laws only require a person to avoid killing another person if there is a clear and safe way to do so. Additionally, evidence indicates Stand Your Ground laws don’t actually deter crime.

Additional information about the dangers of Stand Your Ground laws is available here. If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

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