Safety and Training

Do You Have the Right to Stand Your Ground?

Stand Your Ground extends the rights to defend ourselves outside the home with no duty to retreat. Picture By: Oleg Volk

On July 19, 2018, Markeis McGlockton was shot and killed outside a convenience store in Clearwater, Florida, after a confrontation with a legally armed citizen. The man who shot him was identified as Michael Drejka, who McGlockton shoved to the ground for confronting McGlockton’s girlfriend over a parking space.

Stand Your Ground extends the rights to defend ourselves outside the home with no duty to retreat. Picture By: Oleg Volk
Stand Your Ground extends the rights to defend ourselves outside the home with no duty to retreat.

Initially, Drejka was not arrested because the Pinellas County sheriff stated that “stand your ground” law applies to this case since Drejka feared a further attack after being shoved to the ground.

After a review of the case by Florida State Attorney Bernie McCabe, Drejka, 48, was charged with manslaughter and booked into the Pinellas County Jail. His bail was set at $100,000.

A Matter of Seconds

You’ve probably seen the surveillance video of this incident all over the news. According to law enforcement, there were four–five seconds between Drejka hitting the ground and him firing the deadly shot.

In addition, detectives estimated the men were about 10 feet apart. Here’s the thing. McGlockton no doubt violently shoved Drejka to the ground. In the video, it appears McGlockton did not back away after shoving Drejka until he saw the gun.

This begs the following questions: Could McGlockton have seriously injured or killed Drejka if he continued attacking him? He could have. Even though Drejka was shoved to the ground, was McGlockton still a threat? Maybe. Was Drejka truly in fear for his life? He says so.

The thing is we could talk “what ifs” about this case all day, but the fact remains that one man is dead and another’s life is devastated over a parking spot and a shove to the ground.

While this case will play out for a long time to come, I want to share with you the basic elements of stand your ground laws and the “castle doctrine,” which relates to protecting yourself at home.

Protect Your Person

Remember, I’m not a lawyer and I’m only stating my thoughts regarding these types of laws. You should always consult with an attorney in your state regarding these laws.

One of the most well-known states with a stand your ground law is Florida because of the case mentioned above and similar cases such as the Trayvon Martin shooting.

Many states have laws similar to Florida’s, which basically states a person is justified in using deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to themselves or others. It also states a person does not have a duty to retreat as long as they are in a place where they have the right to be.

So, if we use this definition to examine the case above, both men were in a place they had the right to be. The question that remains is did Drejka reasonably believe that he had to use deadly force to prevent death or bodily harm to himself? Imagine if you were Drejka. He was forcefully shoved to the ground, he was probably afraid, his heart was pounding — what would you do?

On the other hand, could Drejka have simply stood up and walked away from McGlockton? Was McGlockton going to pursue him? Obviously, these are answers that will play out in court.

However, the key thing to remember is that you have to believe the person is still a threat to justify using deadly force.

Protect Your Property

In addition to stand your ground, another controversial law is the castle doctrine. Many states have some type of castle doctrine law, which says a person has the legal right to defend themselves with the use of deadly force against an intruder in their home or other property.

Under this legal theory, the homeowner is not required to retreat, but may stand their ground to defend themselves, their home or their property. Now, this law is more straightforward than stand your ground because it’s pretty reasonable that every person should be able to defend his or her family from an intruder in their home.

In other words, if someone is inside your home, they are committing a crime, and you have every right to protect your family.

However, one of the times this law was disputed was in the 2014 case of a Montana man named Markus Kaarma, who shot a young man in his garage. Kaarma had been the victim of a home burglary, so he stayed up at night in case the burglars came back.

Prosecutors argued that Kaarma lured the young man into the garage by leaving it open and that Markus was staying up all night to enact revenge for the previous burglary. The young man who died was committing a crime when he entered the garage, but the jury decided the homeowner deliberately lured the young man there before he killed him.

The Bottom Line

These types of laws will always be contested and are easily affected by our political climate. But what it really comes down to is common sense: Is the person still a threat, and can they still kill you?

If someone kicks in your door at 3 a.m. and runs at you in your house, then by all means they’re a threat. But if someone tries to kick in your door at 3 a.m. and you yell that you’ve got a gun and they take off down the street… Don’t go chasing them and shoot them in the back because they’re no longer a threat.

Jason Hanson is a former CIA Officer and New York Times bestselling author of Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life. To get a free copy of his book, visit www.SpyEscape.com.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (27)

  1. To reiterate ,in [upstate]NY the castle defense is a bad farce.Even if you physically survive,you’ll be financially destitute trying to stay out of prison..your lawyers won’t work for free.
    AND we don’t have s tand your ground provision either.
    It would be nice for upstate NY and the USA,if New York City[ and its Marxist politicians],was made a[legal]foreign country.Factually it already is.

  2. Let’s start from the beginning, a car pulls into a convenience store parking lot, maybe the only open spot was a handicap spot, we all have done it, it’s just for a few minutes, wife and child remained in the car, the owner of the store came outside with an attitude, this spot was well away from the front door, he approached a woman with anger over a simple parking spot. Her man comes outside, his business is complete, he finds a man yelling at his woman, yes he shove the owner, then turned his attention to his woman, then he was shot, simply drawing his weapon should have sufficed. The owner was too quick to shoot someone….all this over a simple parking spot…further investigation might yield a history of anger from both…we will see…

  3. Here is another idea for your writers. Does a gun owner have a right to protect ones dog (ones property) from a LEO law enforcement official if the gun owner believes his property is in danger? I put this idea out there so it can be looked at from all sides as I would never want to harm anyone including LEO’s but I do have to right to protect my property.

    1. If you draw a gun over an animal on ANYONE be prepared to go to the crossbar motel.

      Dogs are territorial. They do not respect authority. If you see a LEO secure that animal! If they attack it is a sad thing but they will protect their property.The officer will protect his person. Train the animal and secure him if you see LEO approaching.

  4. He’s making the rest of us look bad.

    Previous complaints also says Drejka allegedly threatened to shoot three different individuals, pulling guns on two people in road-rage incidents dating back to 2012.

    Three months before McGlockton’s shooting, Drejka, who is white, threatened to shoot a black man for parking in a handicapped space at the same store where McGlockton was shot confronting Drejka, according to the complaint.

    The man’s boss told detectives Drejka later called him to complain about his worker, telling him “he was lucky that he didn’t blow his employee’s head off,” the complaint alleges.

    In another incident, an 18-year-old man told Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputies in 2012 that Drejka flashed a black handgun at him during a road-rage incident. The teenager told deputies the altercation started when he stopped at a light that turned had yellow, and Drejka, who was behind him, allegedly honked and yelled at him, and pointed the handgun at him from his driver’s-side window, according to the complaint.

    The teenager did not wish to press charges against Drejka, the complaint says.

    On Dec. 12, 2012, a woman told Largo, Florida, police that a man in a black Toyota truck, later identified at Drejka, pointed a gun at her and her passengers.

    “When Largo Police talked to Michael Drejka, he stated that the female driver was driving too slowly through a school zone,” according to the complaint.

    1. In the comments by Curt Oborne, there are a number of incidents where Drejka was reported to have brandished a weapon or made threats of using a weapon or even pointed a weapon at someone. None of those statements seem justified to me from what I read. It makes me wonder at what point do people or does law enforcement take action.

      I believe strongly in the Second amendment, but where there is a right there is a responsibility. It sounds as though Drejka did not take that responsibility seriously and should have had a day in court to see if his right to ‘keep and bear’ or at least to ‘bear’ should be suspended. I realize that this is a slippery slope at best and extremely dangerous. While I do not want anonymous charges to be considered against someone, or false charges if that can be proved, If you have complaints from several people, especially over a long period of time, something should be looked at seriously.

      Another question that should be raised, is when do police not press charges unless someone doesn’t want to testify? Often they still do when it is serious. Is driving too slow a good reason to flash a weapon in Largo, Florida? If he had done so to an officer he probably wouldn’t be alive today. Why is there a difference?

      When we look deeply into this situation, there are a number of people who enabled this to happen. As gun owners, we need to drive the gun policies and laws instead of letting the anti-gunners push their agenda. I am a CCW holder. I am armed more often than not. I am practiced, trained and insured. I don’t want to lose that right or ability. If we don’t police ourselves, the anti-gun agenda will rain down on us.

  5. Good article. As a licensed CC holder, the first example Mr. Hanson brings up is tricky… the young woman, with a small child in the car with her, is parked illegally in a handicap spot. I think my response would have been to simply get the license plate number and report it to the nonemergency police number and went about my business. Gentlemen, how would you react coming out of a store seeing a man yelling at your wife/girlfriend with your small child in the car. Regardless of where she’s parked?

    1. This fellow would have a bad day.
      This isn’t the first time the fellow did that. Some folks are just A-holes. Unfortunately you see too many that are not willing to take their licks and go on- they over react. It is an unfortunate sign of the times. When I first became a cop if you saw a fellow in certain neighbor hoods limping it meant he lost a bet on the ball ticket and did not pay off. The gamblers sure paid off when they lost and they stayed in business. By the 1990s if someone did not pay their drug bill it was carload of punks with Uzis shooting the whole house up. Big difference and less respect.

  6. What would of happened if he had not defended himself? The aggressor was a violent person. I know in my city people have died by being shoved to the ground like that. The aggressor was going back to do more damage until he saw that his victim had a royal flush in spades. I believe that you never pull your weapon unless you are in fear of your life, and if you pull it, shoot to kill to stop the aggressor.

    1. Good luck with that.
      I have fallen down and been knocked down many times over the years and I have used a right hook instead of a 9mm. The so called victim wrote a check his ass could not cash

    2. If he had not shot that man then he would have walked home with a sore ass, period. And a better attitude. But the SOB has an anger problem.

    3. What makes you think the ‘aggressor was a violent person?
      He reacted with force against a threatening and good sized person in his wife’s face. Forty years of police and security experience and thousands of reports that have to stand up in court are behind my reasoning– the fellow using over the parking spot was the aggressor. He got the ball rolling.

    4. Keep your hands to yourself or pay the price! Unless you are LEA then you can do anything you want so it seems. Go ahead, get in my personal space with violence and I will defend myself. NO excuse for putting your hands on another person unless he was putting his hands on the victims so called wife. Which was not the case. Good riddance.

  7. The other point that the jury will have to consider is “did Drejka start the confrontation by getting in the common law wife’s face.” If that is true, then he had no right to call on “stand your ground” when he started it.

    1. Elena

      Excellent point.

      He started the problem, that made it mutual combat.

      My home state’s highest court once held that a blow does not equal a severe beating in return. Makes sense to me.

  8. The gun is there to save your life, period. No other reason.

    It is a last resort. If you are afraid to fight and use the open hand then you had best not pick an argument. This is mutual combat if you do.
    If you like getting into fights then leave the gun at home.

    Stand your ground is a good law. It is basically a reaction to many laws in the People’s Republics that specified you had to leave even your own home to avoid a confrontation. That is un American.
    Donut abuse the law.

  9. INTERESTING NOTE: Went to advertised website to get the “free” book and even searching the website came up with zero (0) results. NICE and I think fraud.

  10. The problem with this situation is a person confronted another person parked in a handicap space. He put himself in a situation that allowed violence to begin. I would not think too kindly if someone, without authority, began yelling at my wife over her parking habits. The person killed did not have the right to shove the other, not did the he have the right to complain about the parking space. The girl could have pulled a gun and shot him because he confronted her.

  11. Should I stand my ground? I don’t really have a choice… I’m a paraplegic – I look like the perfect victim/target in my wheelchair. I can’t run away but I’m not going to just sit in my chair and take an ass whipping either. If anyone advances on me with evil intent, they had best be prepared to be shot because it will happen, and a lot sooner than if I was an able bodied victim.

  12. I deeply believe that anyone should be able to defend them selves against anyone who is threatening them of harm or robbery. ANYONE, and be able to do it in an overwhelming manner! We don’t have to play even for even when threatened!

  13. I’m in Florida and I don’t see how you seen something then I did. Clearly you can see with both eyes that he wasn’t a Threat anymore and that’s why the State charged him. As a ex NYC Police Officer when someone is retreating from another person the threat is gone, period. The video clearly shows him retreating to his car. When the guy got up from the ground you can see the other guy turn around to see, which to me means he was yelled. When he was shot he was nowhere towards the other person. As you said you’re not a Lawyer but being from the CIA doesn’t make you a Police Officer or State Attorney General who reviewed it and made the right decision. It wasn’t Stand your Ground. I’m a Florida CCW carrier, Disabled Nam veteran and worked six years as a NYC Police Officer before becoming a Firefighter. Tx you

  14. The standards have been relaxed to such a degree that we have to rely upon personal ethics rather than law. The law school dictionary that I used in my youth defined words citing case law. Eminent was defined as being immediate and irrevocable. The cited case law referenced when two women at a campfire had an altercation, one woman had a knife and the other used a pistol. The gun wielder had the right to use deadly force in the case of eminent danger. Since she fired her gun from 20 feet and across the campfire the court determined that she had not been in eminent danger and sentenced her for manslaughter.

    In the end we as gun owners and CCW bearers can never get complacent or cavalier about the taking of others lives. Everyday carry is a burden not ever to be taken lightly.

  15. I think an important factor also is age. 10 or so years ago I’d have jumped up and knocked his ass out. Now, however, I may have shot him too. Not that I can’t still kick a little ass, but why. It’ll take me days if not weeks to recover from a decent fight now, being deep into my 60’s. I’ve paid my dues, now some punk wants to push me down!!
    Yeah…..perhaps deadly force was a tad of an overreaction, but you can see the mindset. Believe me, not a day goes by that I dont kill several people, IN MY HEAD!!! Haven’t HAD to kill since the 70’s. Hopefully it’ll stay just like that. But I have a good buffer, and I carry. Some people just dont have the tolerance to let stuff slide. They also should be gun shooters not gun owners. Go to the range, have some fun, but leave ownership to those of us that can carry for 30 years or so, and NOT KILL.

    As always
    Carry on

  16. I happen to agree with the Florida State Attorney in this case. I have seen the video two or three times and Drejka was not in imminent danger. Was there danger present, yes; was it imminent, no. He had ample opportunity to display and warn of deadly force before the actual need. You state “..you have to believe the person is still a threat..” ; which to me is open ended. By that I mean that there is a murky line between what constitutes a “possible” threat and an “imminent” threat. Other than a firearm or bow a person can be a threat at 10 yards and that threat, more times than not, won’t be imminent. There have been numerous cases in the last decade where opportunity took precedence over need. Where revenge, however immediate; was the bottom line not life & limb. Actually, few cases balance on a razors edge. Lots of people carrying these days that are not well-balanced and levelheaded with little or no firearms experience or training that have never been “in a tough spot”. Additionally,…” Is the person still a threat, and can they still kill you?” are widely separated realities. One requires intense focus, the other deadly force. Remember, District attorneys cut a fine line; ……they have to; for the sake of all of us.

    Querying your state and local authorities is excellent advice.

    Thanks for the article.

  17. There is no “Stand Your Ground” provision and “The Castle Defense” is a farce in this Marxist paradise of New York State.I hope you all vote against Andrew Cuomo&co this November.That miscreant has national ambitions.Lord help the USA

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