Blacks Benefit From “Stand Your Ground’ Law


In the wake of George Zimmerman’s “not guilty” verdict, the focus of the left has switched from the racial narrative of the case to an anti-gun narrative. Specifically, Attorney General Eric Holder and others are taking aim at so-called “stand your ground” laws suggesting that they give armed citizens the right to shoot first and ask questions later.

“These laws try to fix something that was never broken,” the Washington Post quotes Holder as telling cheering delegates of the annual convention of the NAACP, which is pressing him to file civil rights charges against Zimmerman. “The list of resulting tragedies is long and, unfortunately, has victimized too many who are innocent.”

Specifically, people like Holder claim that minorities have been hurt by these laws. Many have gone so far as to suggest that Zimmerman was “hunting” Trayvon Martin, with an eye toward using Florida’s iteration of the law to justify his killing.

But this is all bogus for a couple of reasons. First, the “stand your ground” law in Florida really had no bearing on Zimmerman’s case. His defense, which was accepted by the jury in the case, had Martin on top of him attacking. “Outside your own home, common principles of self-defense dictate that unless you have reasonable fear of deadly force or harm, you must flee if possible rather than use deadly force,” writes Michelle Malkin. “But a ‘duty to retreat’ rests on the ability to retreat. And ‘duty to retreat’ was irrelevant in Zimmerman’s case because — pinned to the ground with Martin on top of him, bashing his head on the concrete — he was unable to retreat.”

What’s more, it seems that “stand your ground” laws have been very effective in helping blacks defend themselves in Florida specifically:

African Americans benefit from Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law at a rate far out of proportion to their presence in the state’s population, despite an assertion by Attorney General Eric Holder that repealing “Stand Your Ground” would help African Americans.

Black Floridians have made about a third of the state’s total “Stand Your Ground” claims in homicide cases, a rate nearly double the black percentage of Florida’s population. The majority of those claims have been successful, a success rate that exceeds that for Florida whites.

Nonetheless, prominent African Americans including Holder and “Ebony and Ivory” singer Stevie Wonder, who has vowed not to perform in the Sunshine State until the law is revoked, have made “Stand Your Ground” a central part of the Trayvon Martin controversy.

This disproportionate rate of blacks invoking the “stand your ground” law is no doubt due to elevated rates of black-on-black crime. Black-on-black crime is the result of a) blacks being involved in a disproportionate about of crime and b) all races generally committing crimes against members of their own race (because we all tend to interact the most with people of our own race), but the point remains.

The expanded protections for self defense seem to be a boon to minority communities, rather than a threat.

Rob Port

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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