Stand Your Ground Laws Increase Homicide Rates, Study Finds

The great, well-oiled bullshit factory that is the National Rifle Association would have you believe the controversial Stand Your Ground laws have no drastic effect on a state's homicide rate. Because really, why would loosening the restrictions on violent engagement do a thing like that, right? Right? Hello?

In concept, the law gives licensed gun holders the option to stand tough in a violent situation outside the home, whereas the old code required would-be self-righteous triggermen to retreat. But since the world's most powerful gun advocacy group began ghostwriting the laws for willing state legislatures -- starting with Florida in 2005 -- the legislation's effectiveness has been a tough call -- effectiveness here being how many dead black kids in hoodies we can keep off the street, supposedly.

But a Texas A&M study has kicked a serious hole into the side of the pro-Stand Your Ground stance.

According to the study's number-crunching, states that have implemented Stand Your Ground subsequently field an increase of 7 to 9 percent in the homicide column.

"We find that there are 500 to 700 more homicides per year across the 23 states as a result of the laws," the study's author, Texas A&M economist Mark Hoekstra, tells NPR.

He adds: "It could be that these are self-defense killings... On the other hand, the increase could be driven by an escalation of violence by criminals. Or it could be an escalation of violence in otherwise nonviolent situations."

By shuffling through how police classify shootings, Hoekstra determined there hasn't been an increase in justified shootings, nor in armed criminals. That means the jump may be due to the general escalation of violence, or where "there would have been a fistfight... now, because of Stand Your Ground laws, it's possible that those escalate into something much more violent and lethal."

On the other side of the issue, the NRA is disputing the findings. But the results give off a pretty strong smell of common sense. If you widen the standards for when violent confrontation is acceptable, both good and bad guys are going to be walking with a slight edge in their step. Arming one side -- even in the name of moral righteousness -- is never going to end up a one-sided equation.

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