For years, people have claimed "Stand Your Ground" laws have led to an increase in violence. A new JAMA study suggests their observations were right, at least in Florida. It finds homicides in the state spiked 24% from 82 per month from 1999 to October 2005, when Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law was passed, to 99 per month from October 2005 to 2014, reports ABC News. An "abrupt and sustained increase" was also seen among homicides by firearms, which jumped 32%, per NBC News. Murders of African Americans also jumped 32%, reports the Miami New Times. When researchers compared the findings to homicide rates in New York, Virginia, New Jersey, and Ohio, which don't have "Stand Your Ground" laws, they found no similar increases.
Oxford University researchers didn't compare the findings to other states with such laws and admit "circumstances unique to Florida may have contributed to our findings." But they believe the results are "an effect of the law," which may "prevent people from taking alternative actions instead of using firearms in critical situations," a study author says. "We just hope this evidence can be used to form a discussion on the pros and cons of these kinds of laws." A Duke University researcher not involved in the study says the findings are "important." The point of such laws is "to make people safer," he says. "What we're seeing here empirically is exactly the opposite." (This study looked at homicide rates in 23 states with "Stand Your Ground" laws.)