‘Stand your ground’ laws linked to increase in gun deaths: study

Researchers recently determined "stand your ground" laws are associated with an 8% to 11% national increase in monthly firearm homicide rates.

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An analysis of so-called “stand your ground” self-defense laws released earlier this week found that the controversial statutes may have led to hundreds of additional U.S. homicides each year.

Academic researchers recently determined stand-your-ground laws are associated with an 8% to 11% national increase in monthly firearm homicide rates, according to a study published Monday in the peer-reviewed medical journal known as JAMA Network Open.

Stand Your Ground thegrio.com
A rally in front of Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) office ask him to retract his support for Florida’s so called ‘Stand Your Ground’ gun law. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

That rate increase equals 700 more homicides annually, according to the Washington Post.

“Stand your “ground laws typically eliminate a private citizen’s legal duty to retreat when confronted by an attacker, according to the study. The hotly debated measures gained national attention following the 2012 vigilante killing of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla.

The vigilante Florida murder of Jordan Davis and the additional fatal shooting of Markeis McGlockton in 2018 brought more attention to “stand your ground” laws.

Davis and McGlockton were both killed by white men who tried, and ultimately failed, to use “stand your ground” as a self-defense argument.

University of Oxford associate professor David Humphreys recently told WaPo that justification for “stand your ground” typically centers on the laws “having some protective effect on public safety and deterring violence.”

“There doesn’t seem to be any evidence to show that,” he said. “We only seem to see the opposite effect.”

Travyvon Martin thegrio.com
People along with New York City Council members attend a press conference to call for justice in the February 26 killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

Southern states including Louisiana, Georgia, Florida and Alabama saw “stand your ground” associated homicide and firearm homicide spikes of up to 33.5%, according to the study.

The data also shows “stand your ground” laws weren’t associated with notable changes in West Virginia, Texas, Oklahoma, Nevada, Michigan, Indiana and Arizona, suggesting the statutes aren’t the only variable involved in homicide rate increases.

“I would argue that the most important factor is the public’s awareness of the change in the law,” Tufts University School of Medicine doctor and researcher Michael Siegel wrote in a related commentary for JAMA Network that also was published on Monday.

“One possible explanation for the outcomes observed in these early-adopting states is that the campaigns to adopt these laws were accompanied by high levels of media coverage and public debate, resulting in very high awareness of the existence of the new laws,” Siegel continued. “More recently enacted [“stand your ground”] laws tended to be pushed through state legislatures without much discussion or fanfare, which could have resulted in much lower levels of public awareness of the change in these statutes.”

States across the country started passing their own “stand your ground” laws after Florida passed one in 2005, according to NBC News. NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer helped popularize the measures, which have been passed in at least 23 states since 2005, according to the study released on Monday.

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