From Southern Studies:
Many of the 22 states that have enacted “Stand Your Ground” self-defense laws — like the one at the center of the controversy over last year’s shooting death of unarmed Florida teen Trayvon Martin and the subsequent acquittal of shooter George Zimmerman — have experienced a dramatic jump in the number of homicides, with African Americans disproportionately affected.
That’s the finding of a new report from the bipartisan Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition in collaboration with the National Urban League and VoteVets. It was issued Sept. 16, the day before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights is scheduled to hold a hearing on the effect of such laws, which allow people to use deadly force in public places even if they can avoid the conflict by safely leaving the area.
The report, titled “Shoot First: ‘Stand Your Ground Laws and Their Effect on Violent Crime and the Criminal Justice System,” found that states with such laws have seen their “justifiable homicide” rate rise by an average of 53 percent in five years following their passage. Over the same period, states without such laws saw justifiable homicides fall by an average of 5 percent.
The increase was not simply the result of more homicides being classified as “justifiable” but of an overall rise in firearm-related and total homicides in Stand Your Ground states, the report found.
The jump in homicides deemed justifiable was particularly dramatic in some states, especially in the South. The average annual number of such killings rose by 54 percent in Texas, 83 percent in Georgia, 200 percent in Florida, and an eye-popping 725 percent in Kentucky.