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Let’s Use All the Data This Time: Are Stand Your Ground Laws Racist?

Contrary to anti-rights rhetoric, black defenders are doing well in Stand Your Ground states. Also read: Zimmerman: No Gun, No Charges

by
Howard Nemerov

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September 10, 2013 - 12:00 am
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Since George Zimmerman’s exoneration, Stand Your Ground laws have been under attack. President Obama injected race into the discussion by referring to the “pain” the black community feels over the Zimmerman verdict, and by claiming that the outcome would have been different had Trayvon Martin been white. Speaking at the NAACP convention, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder claimed Stand Your Ground laws “undermine public safety” and “sow dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods.” Both want these enhanced self-defense laws “reviewed.” (Read: “repealed.”) This rhetoric culminated in state Representative Alan Williams sponsoring a bill to repeal Florida’s Stand Your Ground.

Wildly misleading research supporting the notion that Stand Your Ground is racist has since appeared.

The Tampa Bay Times examined over 200 Florida court cases involving Stand Your Ground, concluding: “Defendants claiming ‘stand your ground’ are more likely to prevail if the victim is black.” However, Second Amendment scholar David Hardy analyzed the Times dataset and found that Florida courts applied Stand Your Ground equitably: Two-thirds of white and black defendants claiming Stand Your Ground protection were exonerated.

John Roman of the Urban Institute published a report titled “Do Stand Your Ground Laws Worsen Racial Disparities?” After examining the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide data for years 2005-2009, he concluded that when white defenders kill black attackers, “the justifiable homicide rate is 34 percent,” compared to a 3% rate when the defender is black and the attacker white. Roman concluded that Stand Your Ground laws make racial disparities “more pronounced” and are “bad laws.”

Considering that Supplementary Homicide data for the years 2000-2010 were available at the time of Roman’s study, he curiously chose a truncated dataset to “prove” his point. Researchers call this “sampling error,” where an abridged dataset contradicts the findings from all available data.

The entire Supplemental Homicide dataset for the years 2000-2011 clearly shows, like most laws liberalizing the civil right of self-defense, how blacks benefit from Stand Your Ground at least as much as whites.

To determine if Stand Your Ground laws create “racial disparities,” Roman should have addressed questions such as:

  • Did justifiable homicides by black defenders increase, remain the same, or decrease after states enacted Stand Your Ground?
  • Did changes in interracial justifiable homicides benefit only certain demographics?
  • Are there other contextual issues that may explain any changes in justifiable homicide trends? (E.g.: If law enforcement also committed more justifiable homicides, this may indicate a general increase in violent attacks.)

Had a legitimate conclusion been the objective, a researcher could have collated the 17 states enacting Stand Your Ground between 2005 and 2007, versus the 19 states that enacted no enhanced self-defense laws. Comparing the two state groupings would determine if old-fashioned self-defense laws make blacks safer.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
so a law that is color blind is a racial issue, I guess only in the eyes of racists would that make sense.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Howard: Two things: First: The "Stand Your Ground" law was absolutely irrelevant in the Trayvon Martin case. Those who keep criticizing it are only exposing their stupidity. Second: All the data in the world are not going to convince people who keep criticizing SYG laws. If they are too stupid to understand why the first point, they are not going to be able to understand the data you present.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
They don't care about black defenders. They're only interested in black criminals, whom they regard as black victims in every case. Black criminal = black victim of racism. Get it straight.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (21)
All Comments   (21)
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I'd like to know how he handled the lack of a hispanic sud set in Federal data as the Dept of Justice rolls the majority of hispanic crime under the white category
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
See my reply to Walterc below.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There are a few flaws in this line of reasoning. First of all, black people don't care whether a black victim can defend himself from a _black_ attacker; racism is simply not a factor. Nor is racism involved in a white-on-white attack. Those cases just don't matter.

Racism comes into play only in a killing in which one party is white and the other black, and there are more cases of white people citing stand your ground to defend themselves against black attackers, than vice-versa. This means that, to one who does not care whether a person is an attacker or a defender, any law that condones self-defense is on balance pro-white and anti-black.

Also, consider the economic implications. A law that requires a robbery victim to surrender his money in lieu of self-defense when that option is available lets black people without opportunity make a living via robbery. A Stand Your Ground law, in contrast, denies black people that source of income, as it respects a white victim's right to freedom from unwarranted searches and seizures. (That's like preventing a person's slaves from being taken away without compensation.)

Also, anything that facilitates self-defense makes it harder to use the threat of crime to coerce white people to cough up more in taxes for social spending.

That is why black leaders want these laws repealed.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Thank you! That analysis was just beautiful! I would love to see you polish and put out out in a bigger format!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Opposition to SYG laws stems from the belief that people do not have a God given right to self defense. It is a way to limit or abolish our right of self defense and further the gun control agenda. Facts and Natural Rights do not matter to critics of SYG. Often the charge of racism is the refuge of those with room temperature IQs and advocates of government control of all aspect of our lives.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You get it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
so a law that is color blind is a racial issue, I guess only in the eyes of racists would that make sense.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You understand Al & Jesse's rules of order. To a hammer, everything looks like a nail. And when somebody chooses to act dumber than a bag of hammers?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I find it curious that these types of articles (and associated studies) are listed as black and white without regard to any other races. Do these 1005 populations include Hispanic, Asian, Native American, Pacific Islander, mixed race etc? Or are all of the other races classified as white or black?

Seems to me we aren't getting the full story here. But I'm guessing that the studies care actually using a Black/Non-Black basis with mixed racial victims/attackers being classified as black if they have black in them (i.e. Obama the first black president) and white if they are any other mixed race (i.e. George Zimmerman the White Hispanic).

Can someone clarify that issue for me?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Unfortunately, most reporting police agencies do not enter the Hispanic origin code in the Supplemental Homicide reports. However, keep in mind that the anti-gun 'researcher' used the SHR data, so I used the same dataset he did to show how he fudged. Since we're comparing apples-apples between his research and mine (same data source) we can use this broader black/white comparison.

Or the Urban Institute can publicly issue a retraction of its research and we can move on to important issues, like how to communicate to thinking Americans of African descent that partaking of the Second Amendment better leads to their liberation.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It almost certainly depends on how mixed-race, or people of ambiguous race, are identified in police reports. I would imagine there are no universal standards on how race is reported by police departments. I have even heard of cases where the race of victims and/or perpetrators actually went unreported by the police because they feared it would be racially disruptive. Given these reporting variables, it's probably impossible to address the questions you raise.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Howard: Two things: First: The "Stand Your Ground" law was absolutely irrelevant in the Trayvon Martin case. Those who keep criticizing it are only exposing their stupidity. Second: All the data in the world are not going to convince people who keep criticizing SYG laws. If they are too stupid to understand why the first point, they are not going to be able to understand the data you present.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
[Second: All the data in the world are not going to convince people who keep criticizing SYG laws.]

True. But if you are face-to-face with such folks, and you use data to counter their points instead of calling them stupid, people listening in will see you as the knowledgeable, reasonable one, and can be swayed toward your side.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Your Point Number Two is one of the cruxes as to why virtually nothing can be debated in this country anymore.
Either it's 'your proof is wrong, and I can prove it' [and then they never, ever do] or they just tell you their talking points are 'their opinions' and are incontrovertible to them, personally. [Basically, rock drills, nitroglycerine, split-bamboo whips and salt are not going to be at-all successful]
It might be trite and facile, but I look to appearances to determine who I am even going to talk-to anymore. I'm getting pretty good at 5-minute analysis by letting them do most of the talking, and it works for me most of the time, plus it keeps my blood pressure down to a tolerable level.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The issue isn't about Zimmerman and SYG, but about junk research trying to justify repealing SYG.

Are you outreaching to undecided people? This research will help. That's the only reason I publish.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
They don't care about black defenders. They're only interested in black criminals, whom they regard as black victims in every case. Black criminal = black victim of racism. Get it straight.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Monster... you said a mouthful and hit a home run with your comment.

Thank you.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
good info, but honestly it dosent matter..on either side. if the looney anti gunners cared about facts, we wouldnt be having this discussion to begin with and if im being attacked ima shoot the sob. i dont care what color he is, background, mental clarity, or motivation. my life is in danger i will shoot first, last and to heck with the questions. my right to defense comes from god and nature not the state
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If I'm being attacked, I certainly will not stop to ascertain the race of the attacker. Self defense is color blind. When your life is on the line, you do whatever you have to do to stop the attack..... period. If there are demographic data regarding the racial mix of attackers, then the number crunchers can gather that data post mortem.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
eexactly. i have a right to self defense. its not up to a bunch of johnny come lately armchair quarterbacks to decide if i was 'justified' my life is mine to protect regardless of whether or not the postdated jedi ninjas think they could have disarmed the attacker without shooting.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
My son was selling Sears siding to a Black family in Oakland in the 90s when the police came to the door with a shotgun. To return it to the homeowner. Seems the daughter's ex boyfriend had been burglarizing the house in the middle of the night and Papa took Joe Biden's advice about 15 years before he gave it. He could shoot too - exit one ex - and after mulling it over the Poh- leese decided it was justifiable homicide and gave the man his gun back. My son who, is a White Australian, closed the siding deal too. God Bless America.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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