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

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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