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‘Stand Your Ground’ Changes Sought After Shooting

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Cathy Carter/WUSF
The Florida Channel
Markeis McGlockton was killed outside a Clearwater convenience store last week.

Florida’s Legislative Black Caucus intends to file legislation for the 2019 session to readdress the state's “stand your ground” self-defense law after the July 23 shooting death of Markeis McGlockton in the parking lot of a Clearwater convenience store. 

Caucus Chairman Bruce Antone, a Democratic House member from Orlando, said in a news release Monday the legislation will aim to address “ambiguities in the law.”

In declining to initiate charges against Michael Drejka in McGlockton’s death, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said “a largely subjective standard” is in place for the use of deadly force in such cases.

“Florida's Stand Your Ground Law is replete with ambiguity and does not require the aggressor to justify or prove the use of deadly force was necessary,” Antone said. “The sheriff's decision not to charge Michael Drejka with a crime is a travesty of justice."

Florida’s "stand your ground" law, approved in 2005, allows people to meet "force with force" if they believe they're under threat of being harmed.

McGlockton’s death has refueled a debate about the law, which has been heavily backed by Republican lawmakers and the National Rifle Association.

The black caucus’ proposed legislation was announced Monday as Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum held a news conference to call on Gov. Rick Scott to declare a “state of emergency” over the law.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, has started a separate effort that requests lawmakers to hold a special session on the law.

“All you can do is try, and I couldn’t sit on my thumbs,” Rouson said. “The community is outraged, and I just don’t want to be one of those who let time go by and did nothing.”

To spur a special session, Rouson ultimately would need to get three-fifths support in both Republican-dominated chambers. I

n May, a Democratic effort to use the process to hold a special session to increase education funding died as Republican opposition blocked the idea.