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“Stand Your Ground” Laws Have Failed to Stem Crime or Improve Safety

Rockefeller Institute- Robert J. Spitzer “Many knowledgeable Florida political observers were shocked when the state legislature passed, and Republican Governor Rick Scott signed in March, a modest gun-control measure that included raising the purchase age for firearms from eighteen to twenty-one, banning bump stocks, and giving police greater power to seize weapons from those deemed mentally unfit. Political observers were surprised both because Scott and the legislature have been closely allied with the National Rifle Association (NRA), and because Florida has long been the NRA’s testing ground for gun-friendly measures. Chief among them was Florida’s enactment of a beefed-up stand-your-ground law in 2005. Under the 2005 Florida law and ones like it, a person who has harmed or killed another in a public place can presumptively claim self-defense to avoid prosecution or make conviction far less likely. In so doing, police must accept the claim’s validity. That is, the individual need only assert the belief that the use of force was necessary to prevent serious harm or death. Coupled with that is special legal protection making the person (as the Florida law says) “immune from criminal prosecution and civil action.” Prosecution is still possible, but much more difficult..

A study of Florida murders reported in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2017 found a 75 percent increase in justifiable homicides in the state after enactment of its stand-your-ground law from the period of 2006-2015, as compared with state homicides between 1995 and 2005...

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