WASHINGTON - The Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition, in collaboration with the National Urban League and VoteVets, issued a report Monday they say shows many of the 22 states with “Stand Your Ground” laws are tied to an increase in the number of justifiable homicides. The report was issued a day before Senator Dick Durbin's hearing to consider the law enforcement and public safety implications of laws some critics call “Shoot First” statutes.
The report – Shoot First: ‘Stand Your Ground Laws and Their Effect on Violent Crime and the Criminal Justice System – details how self-defense laws favor of shooters, and sharply increased successful claims that fatal shootings were justified. The report also provides an analysis of the Stand Your Ground laws in each of the 22 states that have adopted them since Florida passed the nation’s first in 2005.
According to the report’s authors, Stand Your Ground states 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 these laws saw justifiable homicides fall by an average of five percent.
The report explains that this increase is not simply the result of more homicides being classified as “justifiable,” but also of an overall increase in firearm-related and overall homicides in Stand Your Ground states. Texas A&M University researchers published a study in May 2012 that found passage of Stand Your Ground laws was associated with a seven to nine percent increase in total homicides, depending on the statistical method used.
"Our coalition joined with the National Urban League and VoteVets to give state legislators the tools they need to understand the impact Stand Your Ground laws have on prosecutions and public safety," said Mayors Against Illegal Guns Co-Chair and New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. "We hope the results will encourage them to review these laws to determine whether they’re helping their communities, or making the public less safe.”
"These laws can have deadly consequences, particularly for African Americans,” said Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League. "We need our elected officials to reform these policies to make sure we’re doing the right things to reduce unjustified shootings and save lives."
In states that passed these laws between 2005 and 2007, the justifiable homicide rate was 53 percent higher in the years after passage of the law than in the years preceding it. The jump in justifiable homicides was particularly large in some states: the average annual number jumped by 200 percent in Florida, 54 percent in Texas, 83 percent in Georgia, 24 percent in Arizona and 725 percent in Kentucky.
Despite the critical problem of shooting deaths in Chicago, Illinois' justifiable homicide rates have dropped, the study said.