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Stand Your Ground Laws, Homicides, and Injuries

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  • Chandler B. McClellan
  • Erdal Tekin

Abstract

The controversies surrounding gun control policies have recently moved to the forefront of public's attention in the United States and elsewhere. Since 2005, eighteen states in the United 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 and firearm injuries. We identify the impact of these laws by exploiting variation in the effective date of these laws across states over time. 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 28 and 33 additional white males are killed each month as a result of these laws. We find no consistent evidence to suggest that these laws increase homicides among blacks. Auxiliary analysis using data from the Supplemental Homicide Reports indicates that our results are not driven by the killings of assailants. We also find that the stand your ground laws are not related to non-homicide deaths, which should not respond to gun laws. Finally, we analyze data from the Health Care Utilization Project to show that these laws are also associated with a significant increase in emergency room visits and hospital discharges related to firearm inflicted injuries. Taken together, these findings raise serious doubts against the argument that Stand Your Ground laws make public safer.

Suggested Citation

  • Chandler B. McClellan & Erdal Tekin, 2012. "Stand Your Ground Laws, Homicides, and Injuries," NBER Working Papers 18187, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18187
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Philip J. Cook & Jens Ludwig & Adam Samaha, 2010. "Gun Control after Heller : Litigating against Regulation," NBER Chapters,in: Regulation vs. Litigation: Perspectives from Economics and Law, pages 103-135 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Michael Spanbauer, 2017. "Self-defense Policy, Justified Homicides, and Race," Working Papers 1708, Tulane University, Department of Economics, revised Mar 2018.
    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. O’Flaherty, Brendan & Sethi, Rajiv, 2015. "Urban Crime," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Elsevier.

    More about this item

    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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