Widely adopted “Stand Your Ground” laws may be driving up homicide rates and fueling racial bias in law enforcement, a new preliminary report from the American Bar Association warns, says the Washington Post. Thirty-three states have enacted “Stand Your Ground” laws in the last decade, and nearly all justify the use of deadly force when defending one's home against an intruder. In seven states, individuals who use force under Stand Your Ground laws are immune from criminal prosecution. States with these kinds of self-defense laws also saw an increase in homicides, says the ABA National Task Force on Stand Your Ground Laws.
The task force advises states with the laws to repeal them if they “desire to reduce their overall homicide rates” or “desire to reduce or eliminate racial disparities in the criminal justice system.” The report is based on more than a decade of empirical evidence and interviews with 70 witnesses. David Harris, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh who served on the task force, pointed to studies at two universities that both found an increase in homicide rates. The researchers behind one Texas A&M study found that homicide rates increased by a statistically significant 8 percent in “Stand Your Ground” states. “The Stand Your Ground law was sold on the basis that it would lower serious crime and, in particular, it would lower homicide rates,” Harris said. “If your city went up 8 percent in murders, do you think there would be a little excitement down at City Hall? Yeah, I think so.”