Stand Your Ground Laws Increase Murders, Economists Say


As the national eye has turned toward more killings that are justified using “Stand Your Ground” laws, economists and researchers are asking a deeper question: how indicative are these high profile homicides of larger trends in crime? More specifically, does implementing a Stand Your Ground law actually increase the homicide rate? The answer is, sadly, yes – enacting laws that protect people who kill others in the name of self-defense does seem to increase the number of homicides in a given state.

Stand Your Ground laws, which allow people outside of their homes to use deadly force if they feel threatened, have recently come under attack when Trayvon Martin, a Florida youth whose only crime seemed to be wearing a hooded sweatshirt, was killed while on a stroll. In the past decade, though, eighteen states have adopted similar laws, and until the recent criticism resulting from Martin’s death few thought to investigate the adverse consequences of implementing SYG.

According to a recent working paper, SYG laws are responsible for increasing the murder rate by over four people a month in states that implement them. Interestingly, though, SYG laws appear to only systematically increase homicides where white people are the victim — an oddity considering the racially charged details of the Trayvon Martin case. Further, these increases are greater than the increases associated with justifiable homicides, meaning that states that implement the law are seeing a significant uptick in murders that aren’t explained away using SYG.

These findings are corroborated by other criminological experts, who note that justifiable homicide is still exceedingly rare, even in SYG states. Others, though, aren’t so credulous. There is considerable variation in the data, even taking into account the variables used in the statistical analysis, such that it may be inappropriate to draw lasting conclusions about the causal relationship between implementing SYG and homicide rates.

Either way, though, these findings call into question two fundamental claims about the effectiveness of Stand Your Ground — that it makes people safer and that it is only used when people are faced with a life threatening situation. Those two statements run entirely counter to the observed effects of Stand Your Ground — more violence and less safety.


Related Stories:

National Rifle Association Offers “Stand Your Ground” Insurance

Teacher Suspended For Showing Actual Murder Video To Class

Arizona’s Trayvon Martin? Another ‘Stand Your Ground’ Killing


Photo credit: The Knowles Gallery's Flickr stream.


Ron Lee Emery
Rlee Emerysgt6 years ago

Justifiable Homicide, continued....

5-2. An officer entrusted with a legal warrant, criminal or civil, and lawfully commanded by a competent tribunal to execute it, will be justified in committing homicide, if, in the course of advancing to discharge his duty, he be brought into such perils that, without doing so, he cannot either save his life, or discharge the duty which he is commanded by the warrant to perform. And when the warrant commands him to put a criminal to death, he is justified in obeying it.
6.-3. A soldier on duty is justified in committing homicide, in obedience to the command of his officer, unless the command was something plainly unlawful.
7.-4. A private individual will, in many cases, be justified in committing homicide, while acting in self-defence.

Catt R.
Catt R6 years ago

saying that the stand your ground laws are causing murders is SILLY that is like saying guns kill; or spoons made me fat......
There are folks out there that THINK the law gives them a hunting licence, that they can hunt someone down and kill them and say the magic phrase "Sanding my ground" to get away with it. Unfortunately it is going to take a bit before those prone to kill catch on that a neighbor playing their stereo does not constitute you being in fear of your life; or hunting and killing your neighbors guest because you don't like the color of their skin just wont cut it.....for most of these cases the shooter would have killed before if they had a good place to hide the body.
At some point people have to see there is a difference between hunting down another person with the intent to kill them and protecting you daughter from being raped in her own bed....

Catt R.
Catt R6 years ago

Ron Lee E. I have no memory of reading a post of yours before today, I have no idea if you view yourself as conservative or progressive as this post is just common sense. I have a comment about your comment and I hope you are not offended by it.
"Pathological lying is where a person repeats a lie, when the facts have been clearly identified repeatedly that their claim is a lie." ---- could also be the definition of the paid right wing trolls [and other haters] who continue to post the SAME EXACT lies time and again no matter how many times they have been called out on them.
I personally have been assaulted by the CONSTANT right wing claim that Democrats are hell bent to take away 2nd amendment since 1960...... over 50 years. That said, I am a strong believer in gun rights, taking guns from law abiding citizens would leave them helpless against thugs and murderers..... not a reasonable plan.

Ron Lee Emery
Rlee Emerysgt6 years ago



The unlawful killing of one human by another, especially with premeditated malice.

Geez, justifiable homicide is legal, hence it is not murder.

So come on, still looking for some of you einsteins to post the SYG laws that show EXACTLY where they now legalize murder and have changed the standards of what constitutes justifiable homicide/defense!

Still waiting for you einsteins to prove that a justifiable homicide in the house is different than a justifiable homicide outside ones house.

Still waiting on you einsteins to prove violent crime does not occur outside the home.

Still waiting on you einsteins to prove that career criminals/gang members and insane suiciders are not responsible for 92% of all deaths by illegal use of a firearm. That way you can still pathologically infer the majority law abiding gun owners are somehow responsible for those crimes they did not commit.

Still waiting for you einsteins to rescind dozens of court rulings and make the police legally liable to protect the individual civilians.

Still waiting for you einsteins to prove the police solve more than 8.06% of all violent crimes committed each year.

Still waiting for you einsteins to rewrite law and rescind the 5th amendment & Haynes vs US 390, 85, 1968.

Still waiting for you einsteins to prove more dead criminals is a bad thing!

Still waiting for you einsteins to prove the NRA is in charge of the BATF, police, DA's, lawyers who fail to enforce

Ron Lee Emery
Rlee Emerysgt6 years ago


That which is committed with the intention to kill, or to do a grievous bodily injury, under circumstances which the law holds sufficient to exculpate the person who commits it.
2. It is justifiable, 1. When a judge or other magistrate acts in obedience to the law. 2. When a ministerial officer acts in obedience to a lawful warrant, issued by a competent tribunal. 3. When a subaltern officer, or soldier, kills in obedience to the lawful commands of his superior. 4. When the party kills in lawful self-defence.
3.-1. A judge who, in pursuance of his duty, pronounces sentence of death, is not guilty of homicide; for it is evident, that as the law prescribes the punishment of death for certain offences, it must protect those who are entrusted with its execution. A judge, therefore, who pronounces sentence of death, in a legal manner, on a legal indictment, legally brought before him, for a capital offence committed within his jurisdiction, after a lawful trial and conviction, of the defendant, is guilty of no offence.
4.-2. Magistrates, or other officers entrusted with the preservation of the public peace, are justified in committing homicide, or giving orders which lead to it, if the excesses of a riotous assembly cannot be otherwise be repressed.
5-2. An officer entrusted with a legal warrant, criminal or civil, and lawfully commanded by a competent tribunal to execute it, will be justified in committing homicide, if, in the cou

Ron Lee Emery
Rlee Emerysgt6 years ago

Justifiable homicide and murder are two distinct different terms with different meanings.

Go back to elementary school and take your english composition class again and pass it this time before you infer justifiable homicide is murder.

Unless of course you are criminal and are upset at the unsafe work conditions criminals are now facing?

We suggest you create a union, The Brotherhood of Criminals, Local 666, where you can file Occupational Health and Safety claims against the government for unsafe working conditions for criminals.

Maybe you can be famous for initiating rights by class in the US, where criminals have far superior rights than average citizens?

Or maybe like a sane person, you actually go after those who continuously fail to collect evidence, fail to prosecute or just don't do their jobs, you know, the police, BATF, lawyers, judges rather than blaming innocent organizations?

Hey bet you can even prove to everyone that a duty to retreat was created in our constitution before 1791, rather than by socialist nanny staters in the last 5 decades, NO, cant prove much of anything as we don't give a hoot what you believe, only what you can prove, which on this subject is nothing.

Ron Lee Emery
Rlee Emerysgt6 years ago

Pathological lying is where a person repeats a lie, when the facts have been clearly identified repeatedly that their claim is a lie.

Lets compare 1997 where gun ban paradises implemented strict gun control versus today.

Australia violent crime rate 1997 829 per 100k people, 2010 1,024 per 100k people no change in murder totals,
Canada violent crime rate 1997 958 per 100k people, 2010,1,324 per 100k people, 10% increase in murders
England, violent crime rate 1997 820 per 100k people, 2010 1,667 per 100k people, no change in murder totals, Home Office UK

In fact, England, which began keeping crime data in 1898, had a murder rate of 1.0 per 100k people and no gun control, yet in 2010 they have a murder rate of 1.3 per 100k people and strict gun control. We are confused, you antis claim strict gun control reduces violence and murders, yet how can their murder rate be higher?

US, violent crime rate 1997 611 per 100k people, 2010 409 per 100k people 20% reduction in murders, FBI UCR database.

Not to mention other verifiable facts since 1997 like 4.5 million new firearms per year in civilian possession per Brady Campaign, 16 more states reinstated concealed carry, 35 states reinstate concealed carry in eateries serving alcohol, 4 states & 200 universities reinstate concealed carry all without the bloodbaths by law abiding gun owners claimed would occur, but didn't, by the antis for what, the millionth time? Yeah, sucks that we aren't the most viol

Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle6 years ago

Of course they increase murders. You are talking about "wanna-be"s and itchy trigger fingers, people who want authority over others. Passing these, are a recipe for disaster.

John C.
Past Member 6 years ago

I feel a lot safer when I carry because the little town I live in has very little police patrol. The economy has gotten so bad here that most of the time the sheriff's department can't afford to buy gas for the few deputies we have. My elderly parents live in fear of being robbed or worse since we have hardly any sheriffs patrols. I go out every night and walk through my town to keep an eye on things. I will protect myself my family and property no matter if it makes anyone mad or not.

Dr Clue
Dr Clue6 years ago

@Beth K. Not everyone who supports the second amendment is a member of the NRA,KKK or the republican party. Given the stated positions here on a wide variety of issues on care2, would you now paint me as well as a member of the NRA,republican party,KKK or similar ?

It would seem your falling prey to the same type of conversation rhetoric that some would use to paint all recipients of entitlements like food stamps as being lazy crack heads.

I would think your views could be expressed without adopting the tactics so often used by people with lessor intellects in these discussions.