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  • Ryan Wittler

“Stand Your Ground” Laws Might Be Making Homicide Rates Go Up

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A new study from researchers at the University of Oxford has found that so-called “Stand Your Ground” (SYG) self-defense laws enacted in the U.S. are linked to an increase in homicides.

Some highlights:

The researchers compared homicide rates in 23 states that enacted SYG laws between 2000 to 2017 with 18 states that did not, finding the enactment of SYG laws were linked to a 7.8% increase in monthly homicide rates and an 8.0% increase in monthly firearm homicide rates.

According to the researchers, the largest increases in homicide and firearm homicide rates were found in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Missouri, ranging from 16.2% to 33.5%. The laws weren’t associated with changes in rates in Arizona, Indiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas, and West Virginia.

What’s behind it?

In an editorial released with the study, Tufts University professor Michael Siegel, whose research focuses on alcohol, tobacco, and firearms, offered a possible explanation for the increases in homicide rates observed in some states: awareness of the laws.

According to Seigel, taking the study’s finding that the largest increases in homicide rates were found in states that were early adopters of SYG laws (from 2005 to 2007), a possible explanation for the increased rates is that “the campaigns to adopt these laws were accompanied by high levels of media coverage and public debate, resulting in very high awareness of the existence of the new laws.”

Overall, according to Seigel, the study “puts to rest any claims that SYG laws reduce violent crime.”

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