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Stand Your Ground Laws and Homicides

Author

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  • McClellan, Chandler

    () (National Bureau of Economic Research)

  • Tekin, Erdal

    () (American University)

Abstract

The controversies surrounding Stand Your Ground laws have recently captured the nation's attention. Since 2005, eighteen states have passed laws extending the right to self-defense with no duty to retreat to any place a person has a legal right to be, and several additional states are debating the adoption of similar legislation. Despite the implications that these laws may have for public safety, there has been little empirical investigation of their impact on crime and victimization. In this paper, we use monthly data from the U.S. Vital Statistics to examine how Stand Your Ground laws affect homicides. We identify the impact of these laws by exploiting variation in the implementation of these laws across states. Our results indicate that Stand Your Ground laws are associated with a significant increase in the number of homicides among whites, especially white males. According to our estimates, between 4.4 and 7.4 additional white males are killed each month as a result of these laws. We find no evidence to suggest that these laws increase homicides among blacks. Our results are robust to a number of specifications and unlikely to be driven entirely by the killings of assailants. Taken together, our findings raise serious doubts against the argument that Stand Your Ground laws make America safer.

Suggested Citation

  • McClellan, Chandler & Tekin, Erdal, 2012. "Stand Your Ground Laws and Homicides," IZA Discussion Papers 6705, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6705
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Cheng Cheng & Mark Hoekstra, 2013. "Does Strengthening Self-Defense Law Deter Crime or Escalate Violence?:Evidence from Expansions to Castle Doctrine," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 48(3), pages 821-854.
    2. Mark Duggan, 2001. "More Guns, More Crime," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(5), pages 1086-1114, October.
    3. Cameron,A. Colin & Trivedi,Pravin K., 2008. "Microeconometrics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9787111235767, April.
    4. Kelly Bedard & H. E. Frech, 2009. "Prison health care: is contracting out healthy?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(11), pages 1248-1260.
    5. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
    6. Mustard, David B, 2001. "The Impact of Gun Laws on Police Deaths," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(2), pages 635-657, October.
    7. Mocan, H Naci & Tekin, Erdal, 2006. "Guns and Juvenile Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 49(2), pages 507-531, October.
    8. Lott, John R, Jr & Mustard, David B, 1997. "Crime, Deterrence, and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(1), pages 1-68, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jan C. Ours & Ben Vollaard, 2016. "The Engine Immobiliser: A Non‐starter for Car Thieves," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 126(593), pages 1264-1291, June.
    2. Anderson, D. Mark & Sabia, Joseph J., 2016. "Child Access Prevention Laws, Youth Gun Carrying, and School Shootings," IZA Discussion Papers 9830, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Ackermann, Nicole & Goodman, Melody S. & Gilbert, Keon & Arroyo-Johnson, Cassandra & Pagano, Marcello, 2015. "Race, law, and health: Examination of ‘Stand Your Ground’ and defendant convictions in Florida," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 142(C), pages 194-201.
    4. Cheng Cheng & Mark Hoekstra, 2013. "Does Strengthening Self-Defense Law Deter Crime or Escalate Violence?:Evidence from Expansions to Castle Doctrine," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 48(3), pages 821-854.
    5. O’Flaherty, Brendan & Sethi, Rajiv, 2015. "Urban Crime," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Elsevier.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    crime; homicide; stand your ground; castle doctrine; guns;

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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