Homicide Rates Increase in States With Stand Your Ground Laws

Researchers at Texas A&M say homicide rates increased by as much as 9 percent in the past 10 years.

Posted: 01/07/2013 02:02 PM EST
Homicides Increase in States with Stand Your Ground Laws

Between 2000 and 2010, the rate of homicides increased 7 to 9 percent in states that had enacted stand your ground laws, according to research conducted by an economist at Texas A&M University.

“The laws induce an additional 600 homicides per year across the 21 states in our sample that enacted castle doctrine laws,” the report states. “These findings provide evidence that lowering the expected cost of lethal force causes there to be more of it.”

Under stand your ground laws, a person is legally allowed to use deadly force against another individual as long as he or she believes there is some imminent, life-threatening danger.

“The results indicate the laws do not deter burglary, robbery, or aggravated assault,” the research report states. “In contrast, they lead to a statistically significant 8 percent net increase in the number of reported murders and non-negligent manslaughters.” 

The research was conducted by Cheng Cheng and Mark Hoekstra at Texas A&M University. It looked at more than 20 states that have passed stand your ground laws between 2000 and 2010.

The laws were the subject of national attention — and controversy — in the aftermath of the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida in February 2012.

In the Martin case, the killer, George Zimmerman, is invoking Florida’s stand your ground. Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting of the unarmed, Black teenager, said that he shot Martin in self-defense. Zimmerman was a neighborhood watch volunteer in a gated community in Sanford, Florida, who was asked by police not to follow Martin.

Nonetheless, he said the teenager had assaulted him and that he was forced to shoot him. Martin’s parents contended that the shooting was a case of racial profiling gone wrong.

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(Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)