Florida’s “stand your ground” law was associated with a sharp increase in killings in the state, says a study whose lead author hopes will prompt lawmakers to re-examine the impact of the law and consider changing it, the Wall Street Journal reports. Some researchers questioned the suggestion in the study, published this month in JAMA Internal Medicine, of a link between the homicide rate increase and the Florida self-defense law. Florida was one of the first to expand the concept of self-defense outside the home. A 2005 law protects people who use deadly force in response to a threat they reasonably believe could cause them serious injury, even when escape is an option. Florida’s law is one of about two dozen passed around the U.S. from 2005 to 2011, backed by the National Rifle Association and other gun-rights groups.
Justifiable homicides (those deemed in self-defense), tripled to an annual average of 36 in the five years after the passage of Florida’s law. The study found the law was linked to an increase in homicides generally. There was a 24 percent rise in Florida’s monthly homicide rate from 1999 to 2014 and a 32 percent increase in the monthly rate of firearm-related killings following the law’s passage. Researchers David Humphreys of University of Oxford, Antonio Gasparrini of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and Douglas Wiebe of University of Pennsylvania analyzed data on homicides collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC recorded 964 homicides in Florida in 1999 and 1,158 in 2014.