Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Study Shows "Stand Your Ground" Laws Don't Decrease Crimes
"Stand Your Ground" laws have become very popular recently, with the NRA being successful in getting these laws passed in at least 20 states. The excuse given for passing these laws is that it gives a person the right to defend themselves from an attack. That is unadulterated crap. People have always had the right to defend themselves in this country, even to the extent of using deadly violence. The only exception was that a person should retreat instead of using deadly violence if it was possible to do so.
What the new "Stand Your Ground" laws do is to remove the duty to retreat. Instead of taking the non-violent way out, a person could go straight to deadly violence and shoot someone (as long as they claimed they thought they were in danger). And those who thought the SYG laws would just lead to more deaths have been proven to be correct. In the states with these laws, the number of "justifiable homicides" have nearly doubled.
Some of the NRA crowd might try to claim that the increase in "justifiable homicides" is because of an overall increase in violent crime in this country. However, that is simply not true. According to statistics recently released by the FBI, violent crimes have gone down again -- for the fifth year in a row. The increase is more likely due to some people satisfying their own bloodlust rather than taking an opportunity to retreat and avoid violence.
Now a new study done at Texas A&M University shows that the new SYG laws don't lessen the incidence of murder in the states that have them. In fact, it tends to cause more murders to happen. Here is what the study found (by examining statistics in the states with SYG laws):
Results indicate that the prospect of facing additional self-defense does not deter crime. Specifically, we find no evidence of deterrence effects on burglary, robbery, or aggravated assault. Moreover, our estimates are sufficiently precise as to rule out meaningful deterrence effects.
In contrast, we find significant evidence that the laws increase homicides. Suggestive but inconclusive evidence indicates that castle doctrine laws increase the narrowly defined category of justifiable homicides by private citizens by 17 to 50 percent, which translates into as many as 50 additional justifiable homicides per year nationally due to castle doctrine. More significantly, we find the laws increase murder and manslaughter by a statistically significant 7 to 9 percent, which translates into an additional 500 to 700 homicides per year nationally across the states that adopted castle doctrine.
Thus, by lowering the expected costs associated with using lethal force, castle doctrine laws induce more of it. This increase in homicides could be due either to the increased use of lethal force in self-defense situations, or to the escalation of violence in otherwise non-lethal conflicts. We suspect that self-defense situations are unlikely to explain all of the increase, as we also find that murder alone is increased by a statistically significant 6 to 11 percent.
These laws need to be abolished. This is not a Second Amendment issue, nor is it a self-defense issue. Abolishing the "Stand Your Ground" laws would not infringe on the right of gun ownership, and it would not keep a people from defending themselves when no avenue of escape is available. It would, however, prevent some unnecessary killings -- and saving lives is always a good thing.