Eric Holder hates them. People like Yours Truly love them. Folks typically fall on one side or the other.
I’m talking about Stand Your Ground laws. The question is, does the data really support Holder’s idea that they lead to more violence? Well, Michael Doyle over at McClatchy took at look at the numbers, and the conclusion?:
The controversially concluded Florida murder trial of George Zimmerman has prompted fresh debate over whether “stand your ground” self-defense laws hinder violence or, perversely, propel it.
The evidence appears mixed.
Some studies show enhanced public safety. Others suggest the opposite. One study concluded that several dozen men a month are killed as a consequence of the laws. In a speech this week, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder showed himself to be among the skeptics.
The resulting ambiguity, like the Zimmerman trial itself, in which he was found not guilty of murdering 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, may confound anyone hoping for a neutral finding of fact. It also allows advocates and critics alike to cherry-pick their preferred experts, which can enliven debate but complicate lawmaking.
It’s actually somewhat surprising that the evidence is mixed. However, the McClatchy piece also boasts an interactive map that, after clicking a state, shows the violent crime rate over a period of years. It also notes when that state passed its Stand Your Ground law.
Of course, there are some factors that have been missed.
For example, it notes when my own native Georgia passed its Stand Your Ground law. However, it completely fails to note that Georgia, like many other states, had case law in place that essentially made the state a Stand Your Ground state. The law was actually passed to prevent case law from being changed.
As such, the map does a pretty poor job of tracking much of anything.
The reality is, however, that there has been a steady trend of reduced violent crime over the past several years. Admittedly, this trend predates Stand Your Ground laws being formally enacted. However, it also seems clear that these laws haven’t done anything that Holder has claimed.
In fact, as the piece notes, while Florida has seen an uptick in homicides, this hasn’t exactly been the norm.
However, as Rahm Emanuel once said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” It’s just to bad that this Administration is so willing to let facts go to waste if they don’t mesh with the preferred narrative.