Science

Increase In Florida's Homicide Rate Linked To 'Stand Your Ground' Law

By Christie Abagon , Nov 15, 2016 09:55 PM EST
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Recent study shows that there has been a significant increase in gun-related homicides in Florida.  In a report published Monday on the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the researchers found that after the 'Stand Your Ground' law was passed in 2005, homicide rate increased from an average of 82 homicides per month between 1999 to October 2005 to 99 homicides per month from 2005 to 2014.  The rate of homicide by firearms went up to 49 homicides per month to 69 during the same years.

Researchers Say 'Stand Your Ground' Law Does Not Make People Safer

Jeffrey Swanson, a professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University said: "These 'stand your ground' laws have proliferated and for the people who favor them, the point is that it's going to make people safer.  You can stand your ground if you perceive your life is being threatened [but] what we're seeing here empirically is exactly the opposite."

The homicide rate increase affects mostly white males aged 20-34.  However, blacks have seen a higher average number of homicides per month in the decade after the law was passed.  This means that although the immediate effect was less pronounced for them, data shows that blacks are more affected in the long run. 

Experts Hope Results Of Research Will Be Used To Study The Law Further

"Our hypothesis was that these laws prevent people from taking alternative actions instead of using firearms in critical situations," Antonio Gasparrini, associate professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a co-author of the study said. 

The goal of the study is not to further any political agenda, but to fill a gap in research on the impact of laws similar to Stand Your Ground.  "We just hope this evidence can be used to form a discussion on the pros and cons of these kinds of laws," said Gasparrini. "We don't have a preference about how this evidence will be used."

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