Study: Florida Gun Murder Rate Up 31% After ‘Stand Your Ground’

Jan 9, 2017

Researchers are now saying Florida’s “stand your ground” law coincided with big increases in the homicide by firearm rate.

The 2005 “stand your ground” law in Florida removed the legal requirement that a citizen try to flee before using deadly force. Instead, deadly force is authorized if someone perceives the threat of harm.

While media attention has focused on high profile cases where the law was invoked as a defense, researchers looked at the broader impact to the homicide rate. They studied Florida before and after the law, and also compared it to four states without the law. They used gun suicides as a control.

The results? The homicide rate went up 24 percent after the law, and the homicide by firearm rate went up 31 percent. The suicide rate, though, stayed steady.

Study author David Humphreys spoke with the Journal of the American Medical Association’s podcast about the research.

“We can’t know why that is, whether or not people decided to arm themselves more, whether they decided to react more violently to perceived threats in public, but it’s quite startling how the increase occurs at exactly the same time as the ‘stand your ground’ law,” Humphreys said. “The ‘stand your ground’ law in Florida has resulted in far more harm occurring than it was argued it would.”

The study did not look at whether the overall crime rate went down as a result of the law, and also did not look at firearm injuries that didn’t result in death.

WMFE is a partner with Health News Florida, which receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Health reporting on WMFE is supported in part by Florida Hospital and the Winter Park Health Foundation.