A new study has found that homicides in the state of Florida have increased by over 24% since the state passed a controversial “stand your ground” law in 2005. The law allows a person to use deadly force in self-defense if they believe that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm. The law drew national attention in 2012 when George Zimmerman was acquitted for the shooting and killing of an unarmed teen, Trayvon Martin, who Zimmerman claimed he killed in self-defense.
The study, published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association, analyzed monthly rates of homicide and homicide by firearm in Florida between 1999 and 2014. Researchers found that the monthly homicide rate increased by 24.4% since the law was passed, and that the rate of homicide by firearm increased by 31.6%. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also found that the average number of homicides in Florida increased from 82 a month in 1999 to 99 a month in the 2005-2014 time period.
In conclusion, the study found that “the removal of restrictions on when and where individuals can use lethal force was associated with a significant increase in homicide and homicide by firearm in Florida.” Researchers found no increase in the monthly rate of suicides or suicides by firearm since the passage of the law, however. David Humphreys of the University of Oxford, lead author of the study, said that he hoped that the research would convince officials to consider amending or repealing the law.