When Florida adopted a Stand Your Ground law in 2005, it not only protected law-abiding citizens’ right to self-defense, but also birthed a movement that began sweeping the country state by state. Steadily, states throughout the South and Midwest—including the upper Midwest—began instituting laws that erased any requirement that a law-abiding citizen retreat or even try to retreat when threatened with lethal force.
By 2012, well over half the states in the country had Stand Your Ground statutes, and the popularity of the law went beyond Republican versus Democrat. In fact, Democrat governors were signing the self-defense statutes into law in their states as well, such as in Michigan, where a Stand Your Ground law was signed by Democrat Gov. Jennifer Granholm in 2006.
But a war was launched against Stand Your Ground after George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin in self-defense in Sanford, Fla., on Feb. 26, 2012. The so-called “mainstream” media, Obama Attorney General Eric Holder, the national Democratic Party, and gun control groups all joined hands to call for a rethinking—and even a repeal—of Stand Your Ground statutes around the country.By 2012, well over half the states in the country had Stand Your Ground statutes …
To make the case, media outlets and gun control groups talked of the so-called racial disparity of Stand Your Ground, as if the law supposedly helped white defendants while leaving others to fight for themselves. All such arguments ignored the facts, including—but not limited to—the fact that George Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin on pure self-defense grounds, without even availing himself of a Stand Your Ground defense.
Racially based arguments against Stand Your Ground also ignore another important fact: namely, that the trend-setting Stand Your Ground statute in Florida has benefited a higher percentage of black defendants than it has white defendants.
The Crime Prevention Research Center’s John Lott covered this in his most recent book, The War On Guns: Arming Yourself Against Gun Control Lies. Lott wrote, “From 2005 through October 1, 2014, blacks made up 16.7 percent of Florida’s population and 34 percent of the defendants who invoked Stand Your Ground.” Moreover, “Black defendants who invoke [Stand Your Ground] are actually acquitted four percentage points more frequently than whites who use this very same defense.”
The 2017 Florida legislature is currently working to bolster the state’s Stand Your Ground laws by requiring the state to disprove a Stand Your Ground claim in a pre-trial hearing. This puts the onus on the state rather than the law-abiding citizen and—if the state fails to disprove the claim in the pre-trial hearing—eliminates the need for a trial. Yet even though Stand Your Ground has proven more beneficial for black defendants on a percentage basis than whites, and even though Zimmerman did not use a Stand Your Ground defense, The New York Times is warring against lawmakers’ efforts to bolster Stand Your Ground by pointing to American Bar Association claims that Stand Your Ground is a bad law.Common sense argues against the NYT’s claim, and Lott’s work stands in stark contrast to it as well.
According to the NYT editorial board, an American Bar Association study shows that Florida’s Stand Your Ground law “has been followed by an increase in homicides, diminished victims’ rights and heightened racial injustice in enforcement.”
Common sense argues against the NYT’s claim, and Lott’s work stands in stark contrast to it as well.
Thankfully, Stand Your Ground is still on the march. Missouri lawmakers adopted a Stand Your Ground statute by overriding Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto in September 2016, and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad signed Stand Your Ground into law for his state on April 13.
If you think about it, what makes more sense than recognizing a citizen’s right to act in self-defense the very instant they come under attack? After all, criminals carry out attacks quickly and unexpectedly to benefit themselves, so the second a victim realizes an attack is underway may be the only second he or she has to do something about it.
AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and host of Bullets with AWR Hawkins, a Breitbart News podcast. He is also the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter @AWRHawkins, or reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.