Stand-Your-Ground Laws Change Self-Defense Strategies in U.S.


In an analysis of stand-your-ground laws, the Christian Science Monitor says whites are significantly more successful claiming self-defense when their attacker is black than blacks are when fighting back against an attacker who is white. To some, such findings are a consequence of the pandemic of violence plaguing elements of the black community. But to others, they suggest that stand-your-ground laws have allowed perceptions of the black community – sometimes accurate, sometimes not – to become a legal justification for using deadly force.

Stand-your-ground laws have begun to change the calculus of self-defense in the U.S. The idea behind them is to “expand the legal justification for the use of lethal force in self-defense, thereby lowering the expected cost of using lethal force and increasing the expected cost of committing violent crime,” say researchers Cheng Cheng and Mark Hoekstra in a Texas A&M study. Statistics show that justifiable homicides rose by 8 percent in stand-your-ground states, amounting to some 600 additional killings. At least 31 states have some version of the laws, first passed in Florida in 2005.

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