Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ Law Linked to Homicide Increase

Source: Time

By Josh Sanburn

New study shows murder rate spike after law was implemented

Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which gives widespread legal immunity to people who use lethal force in self-defense, may be responsible for an increase in homicides in the state, according to a new studyreleased Monday.

Since the controversial law was implemented in 2005, Florida’s overall monthly homicide rate has increased 24.4% and the homicide by firearm rate is up 31.6%, according to the study, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Florida’s self-defense law, which was the first of almost two dozen to pass in states around the country over the last decade, became the subject of scrutiny following the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in 2012. Zimmerman was acquitted of Martin’s murder after claiming self-defense following a confrontation with the unarmed teenager. The JAMA study, the first to look specifically at the effects of Florida’s law, analyzed injury and homicide rates collected by the Centers for Disease Control and compared those rates to four other states—New York, New Jersey, Ohio, and Virginia—that did not implement similar laws.

Read more: How Stand Your Ground Laws Spread From Florida to Half the U.S.

David Humphreys, a professor of social policy at the University of Oxford and a co-author of the paper, says he looked for other reasons to explain the increase in homicides in Florida, including changes in the way murders are reported. He also looked for proof of potential economic pressures from the Great Recession that could explain the uptick by analyzing the rate of suicides in the state but found no significant upswings.

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