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Editorial: Don’t excuse gun violence

August 8, 2018

So-called “stand-your-ground” laws originally were meant to ensure that someone could not be prosecuted for using deadly force in self-defense when that was the only option. State laws generally included a “duty to retreat” to avoid violent confrontations whenever possible.

But beginning about a decade ago, a wave of states including Pennsylvania vastly altered those laws to protect overtly offensive rather than purely defensive behavior by people using deadly force, most often with guns.

Last Thursday in Clearwater, Fla., an argument over a handicapped-parking space resulted in the death of a 28-year-old man, Markeis McGlockton, who was shot to death at a convenience store in front of his 5-year-old son.

Michael Drejka, 47, confronted McGlockton for parking in a handicapped space. After McGlockton exited the store, the argument resumed and McGlockton pushed Drejka to the ground. Drejka shot McGlockton, who staggered back into the store and collapsed. He later died at a hospital.

Store surveillance video shows McGlockton backing away as Drejka fired, but local police said they weren’t sure about charging the shooter because McGlockton had pushed him.

Laws should be crafted to prevent gun violence rather than excuse it. Drejka could have called police to complain about illicit use of a handicapped spot -- which is not a capital offense -- but he chose confrontation.

The law should be clear that violence is the wrong choice in all but the most dire situations. Pennsylvania lawmakers should roll back the stand-your-ground law to its original purpose to ensure that violence is the last option.

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