In Two Dozen States, “Stand Your Ground” Laws Have Not Increased Murder Or Manslaughter Rates


“It’s time to question laws that senselessly expand the concept of self-defense and sow dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a speech to the NAACP in which he reacted to the George Zimmerman verdict in Florida. According to holder, so-called “stand your ground” laws increase violent crime. “By allowing — and perhaps encouraging — violent situations to escalate in public — such laws undermine public safety. The list of resulting tragedies is long and, unfortunately, has victimized too many who are innocent.”

The problem is that the data doesn’t seem to back up Holde’s claims. McClatchy reports:

While Florida saw an uptick in murders and nonnegligent manslaughters after it passed its “stand your ground” law in 2005, the trend has not been common across other states which have passed similar laws.

Here’s a chart showing murder/manslaughter rates in the two dozen states with the legislation, with the dates the legislation was made law marked. As you can see, the trend is steady at worst and slightly downward at best with Florida being the outlier:


Crime statistics are complicated things, with all sorts of variables that can impact the rise or decline of crime. But the opponents of “stand your ground” laws have suggested that it would turn out community into wild-west shooting galleries with people shooting first and asking questions later.

That just doesn’t seem to be the case, based on the numbers.

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • HG

    It’s not the case. Just like it’s not the case that limiting and complicating gun ownership reduces violent crime. Just like it’s not the case that banning semi-automatic weapons ignorant liberals like to call “assault weapons” won’t stop the next shooting in a “gun-free zone”. Just like limiting magazine capacities won’t reduce the number that die from gun violence.

    The efforts to restrict and ultimately eliminate the second amendment freedom of law abiding citizens is just that — an effort to under mine the second amendment. It has nothing to do with reducing violent crime. Not because liberals say it to disguise their true intentions, but because it doesn’t.

  • HG

    Case in point.

    A veteran can’t own a gun because of a 42 year old “minor drug possession” conviction when a juvenile?
    What threat does this veteran owning a 22 caliber rifle pose to society?

  • Matthew Hawkins

    When you define something as not being murder or manslaughter of course it doesn’t raise those rates. It can’t by definition.

    • Rob

      Nor should it, but you’re talking past the point.

      The laws are pretty specific. You can’t shoot first and ask questions later, as critics suggest, and yet that’s what many said would happen.

      It hasn’t happened, as the data shows.

      • Matthew Hawkins

        From the WSJ.

        While murder and manslaughter don’t go up, actual killing does.

        • Rob

          The number of justifiable homicides have gone up. How many of those justified shootings would have resulted in a murder anyway had the shooter not defended himself/herself?

          It’s amazing to me how you want so many – particularly minorities – to be victims of violent crimes rather than grant them the ability to defend themselves.

          That’s pretty sick Matt. I know you don’t think for yourself much, but jeez.

          • Matthew Hawkins

            For the stand your ground law to be applicable than there must have been an opportunity to retreat in all of them or it would be simple self defense.

            So I am guessing none of them would have ended in a murder.

          • Rob

            You can guess all you want, but the impetus for stand your ground laws is that the opportunity to retreat is pretty easy to discern with 20/20 hindsight, but not so much when you’re under attack.

            The duty to retreat creates a ridiculous legal standard, and potentially turns victims into criminals.

            How about this: If you attack someone else, they might shoot you. If you don’t want to get shot, don’t attack people.

            What’s wrong with that?

          • HG

            Way, way to sensible for Matt to accept.

          • Matthew Hawkins

            The vast majority of stand your ground cases are not assaults.

            In most cases nobody would even be injured if the person didn’t stand their ground.

          • Rob

            Says you.

          • Drain52

            Yep. Chief Justice Holmes: “Detached reflection cannot be demanded in the presence of an uplifted knife.”

          • LenYol

            It seems that “Matt” is as dense as little hanni.

          • mickey_moussaoui

            so where is Will
            Bonilla? perhaps he is worried that his boss’s at…

            Lilien Systems

            17 E. SirFrancis Drake Blvd Suite 110

            Larkspur, California 94939

            United States

            (425) 455-5599

            (808) 628-6860 Fax

            …might find out about all the bigoted messages he posted over the past couple years. That would be a shame if someone did that considering that the email is easily obtainable from their web site

            I’m just saying, you know what I mean, it would suck

    • mickey_moussaoui

      Aren’t you the one redefining self defense as murder?

      • Matthew Hawkins

        No, self defense is self defense.

        In most situations Stand Your Ground has little to do with self defense.

        • Hoth


        • mickey_moussaoui


        • JoeMN

          Stand Your Ground takes some of the legal burden off of the mother with two children in tow when she is confronted by the bangers as she makes her way through a dimly lit parking lot to her car.

  • Eurekacon
    • HG

      Interesting article. Wonder why the article pictures Zimmerman and Trayvon and features the case since “stand your ground” had no role whatsoever in the case? Kind of calls the articles claims into question right off the bat.

  • mickey_moussaoui

    If all citizens who wanted to defend themselves righteously were to be certified in a C&C class it would add additional validity to the Stand Your Ground Law. The government should subsidize it too. States should lead the way

  • WOOF

    Stand your ground has been the gangbangers buddy.
    He shot ,she shot.
    If Trayvon killed George it would be probably be
    justifiable self defense.

    • LenYol

      “If Trayvon killed George it would be probably be
      justifiable self defense.”

      Only if George would have thrown the first punch, got on top of Trayvon and began beating him. Hey…that’s what Trayvon did to George. JUSTIFIABLE SELF DEFENSE…GO GEORGE!!!

      • MikeS

        Not necessarily true. You don’t need to be attacked and sustain injuries to claim self-defense. You only need to have a reasonable fear for your life and (if there is no stand-your-ground law) have no reasonable opportunity to safely retreat. Of course, I think that just shows how strong the case was for acquittal in the TM/GZ case.

        • LenYol

          Without being attacked, or an attackers weapon being recovered, how would you go about proving you were in fear for your life? Just saying you feared for your life leaves the door open for fudged claims of self defense.

          • WOOF

            George stalked george went to his pocket.
            What would you do ?

          • LenYol

            Poor little dopey, we’ve been through this already. Was George “stalking” or was George “following” Trayvon? I don’t recall on the police recording the dispatcher saying “you don’t need to “stalk” him.

            Next time you’re walking down the street and people are following behind you, you being the paranoid troll that you are, let’s hope that no one goes into his/her pocket for a cell phone, cigarette’s, keys or anything else that would provoke you into an attack. And, for you to see them do that, you’d have to be facing them.

    • jl

      Only if Trayvons’ head had first been banged against the pavement several times by someone on top of him, then yes. So what’s your point?

      • WOOF

        Trayvon ”
        A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with
        force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himselin any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to
        retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force withforce, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself”

        George Stalked him, George by his own words went, to his pocket .George was armed.

        • LenYol

          Dopey, trayvon was not attacked, Zimmerman got sucker punched by your little dope smoking gang banger wannabe, who is now dead as a door nail.
          You keep saying George went to his pocket, so what? How often do you go to your pocket everyday? Please don’t be your typical stupid self and say he was going for his firearm.

          • WOOF

            “Went to his pocket”. You after being stalked would wait to see what came out?

          • LenYol

            If I felt that was truly being “stalked” which the dope smoker wasn’t, I’d be on the phone with the cops instead of a fat, stupid, illiterate hog.

            And, you’re too frigging stupid to even begin to know what I would have done, even though I just told you.
            Try not to freak out and kill someone next time someone reaches into their pocket. But remember, you’d have to be facing them to see them do that, you dope.

          • LenYol

            BTW, dopey, who said he “went to his pocket?”

          • WOOF

            George said it, on TV.
            George got in a fist fight and killed a 17 year old with his gun. Bottom line George is a punk.

          • LenYol

            So, dopey, you’re saying that George said “he went to his pocket” Who was he talking about?
            George didn’t start a fist fight, the now dead as a door nail Trayvon the dope smoking wannabe gang banger started a fist fight by sucker punching Zimmerman.
            You’re also saying that if you reach into your pocket for something, a paranoid clown such as yourself would be justified to break your nose, put you down and slam your useless, empty little noggin on the cement.

          • WOOF

            A person in fear for their life or serious bodily harm is justified in shooting you.
            benvenidos a Miami.
            Florida, the rules are different here

          • LenYol

            Those aren’t the rules, dopey, that’s the law, and it’s not just in Florida, But thanks for confirming that Zimmerman was justified in shooting the now dead as a door nail, dope smoking wannabe gang banger Trayvon Martin, in self defense.

    • JoeMN

      Stand your ground has been the gangbangers buddy.
      No, that would be gun control.