'Stand your ground' laws increase homicides | Arkansas Blog

Friday, May 17, 2013

'Stand your ground' laws increase homicides

Posted By on Fri, May 17, 2013 at 11:05 AM

Count me unsurprised that enhanced legal protection for opening fire on people results in more gun deaths.

But if you can't believe researchers from Texas A&M, who can you believe? From the Law Blog:

In a new study, an economics professor and a PhD student at Texas A&M University take a broader look at the laws’ effect. The authors, Professor Mark Hoekstra and Cheng Cheng, use state-level crime data from 2000 to 2009 to determine whether the laws deter crime.

The answer, they conclude, is no. In fact, the evidence suggests the laws have led to an increase in homicides.

From the study:

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.

The gun lobby will shortly inform us 1) that the study is all wrong and 2) what's wrong with more "justifiable" homicides anyway? These have included people gunning down petty thieves who posed no physical threat to the shooter, but if you can't shoot someone for breaking into your car, what's a gun for?

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