Saturday, November 19, 2016
Do "Stand your Ground" laws increase deaths?
The academic journal article below says they do. As a retired man, I don't intend to make any attempt to replicate their findings so I am not going to critique their methods of analysis. I would however like to make two points about the study:
1). Who were the extra people who died? I think there was a fair chance that it was the bad guys -- home invaders etc. That was after all the intention of the law. So maybe the situation is cause to break out the champagne! Unsurprisingly, the study was silent on that question.
2). Why Florida? 23 States have such laws. Did the authors pick out Florida because a quick scan of the data showed a result in Florida that they liked? I wouldn't put it past them given the large current literature about crooked practices in science. But however we answer that, it is clear that no generalizations from the findings are possible. Florida could be the odd State out. We simply do not know.
Evaluating the Impact of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” Self-defense Law on Homicide and Suicide by Firearm
David K. Humphreys et al.
Importance: In 2005, Florida amended its self-defense laws to provide legal immunity to individuals using lethal force in self-defense. The enactment of “stand your ground” laws in the United States has been controversial and their effect on rates of homicide and homicide by firearm is uncertain.
Objective: To estimate the impact of Florida’s stand your ground law on rates of homicide and homicide by firearm.
Design, Setting, and Participants: Using an interrupted time series design, we analyzed monthly rates of homicide and homicide by firearm in Florida between 1999 and 2014. Data were collected from the Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research (WONDER) web portal at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We used seasonally adjusted segmented Poisson regression models to assess whether the onset of the law was associated with changes in the underlying trends for homicide and homicide by firearm in Florida. We also assessed the association using comparison states without stand your ground laws (New York, New Jersey, Ohio, and Virginia) and control outcomes (all suicides and suicides by firearm in Florida). October 1, 2005, the effective date of the law, was used to define homicides before and after the change.
Main Outcomes and Measures: Monthly rates of homicide, firearm-related homicide, suicide, and suicide by firearm in Florida and the 4 comparison states.
Results: Prior to the stand your ground law, the mean monthly homicide rate in Florida was 0.49 deaths per 100 000 (mean monthly count, 81.93), and the rate of homicide by firearm was 0.29 deaths per 100 000 (mean monthly count, 49.06). Both rates had an underlying trend of 0.1% decrease per month. After accounting for underlying trends, these results estimate that after the law took effect there was an abrupt and sustained increase in the monthly homicide rate of 24.4% (relative risk [RR], 1.24; 95%CI, 1.16-1.33) and in the rate of homicide by firearm of 31.6% (RR, 1.32; 95% CI, 1.21-1.44). No evidence of change was found in the analyses of comparison states for either homicide (RR, 1.06; 95% CI, 0.98-1.13) or homicide by firearm (RR, 1.08; 95% CI, 0.99-1.17). Furthermore, no changes were observed in control outcomes such as suicide (RR, 0.99; 95% CI, 0.94-1.05) and suicide by firearm (RR, 0.98; 95% CI, 0.91-1.06) in Florida between 2005 and 2014.
Conclusions and Relevance: The implementation of Florida’s stand your ground self-defense law was associated with a significant increase in homicides and homicides by firearm but no change in rates of suicide or suicide by firearm.
JAMA Intern Med. Published online November 14, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.6811