July 17th, 2013

Who uses Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” disproportionately?

Why, black people, that’s who.

This should come as no surprise whatsoever. After all, black people are disproportionately the victims and perpetrators of violent crime, most often black-on-black crime, although that doesn’t grab the headlines very often. But SYG has become a popular target of black activists and pundits, despite its inapplicability to the Zimmerman case, drawing the ire of even so disparate a duo as Eric Holder and Stevie Wonder.

Stevie Wonder? Yes, he is boycotting Florida because of the law, although I would imagine Florida can somehow manage to survive without him, and his action will only serve to penalize Wonder fans in that state. Plus, he needs to curtail his touring significantly more than that, because although he may not know it, plenty of states have similar laws. In case Wonder’s reading this (not a likely event), I’ve helpfully provided a crib sheet for him. In addition to Florida, there’s:

Many states have some form of stand-your-ground law. Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California…Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts (though the term is used very loosely here), Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia,, Wisconsin and Wyoming have adopted Castle Doctrine statutes [defending the home space], and other states (Iowa, Virginia, and Washington) have considered stand-your-ground laws of their own…

Some of the states that have passed or are considering stand-your-ground laws already implement stand-your-ground principles in case law. Indiana and Georgia, among other states, passed stand-your-ground statutes due to possible concerns of existing case law being replaced by the “duty to retreat” in later court rulings. Other states, including Washington and Virginia, have implemented stand-your-ground judicially but have not adopted statutes.

Here’s the scoop on racial differences in the actual operation of the SYG law in the state of Florida:

But approximately one third of Florida “Stand Your Ground” claims in fatal cases have been made by black defendants, and they have used the defense successfully 55 percent of the time, at the same rate as the population at large and at a higher rate than white defendants, according to a Daily Caller analysis of a database maintained by the Tampa Bay Times. Additionally, the majority of victims in Florida “Stand Your Ground” cases have been white.

African Americans used “Stand Your Ground” defenses at nearly twice the rate of their presence in the Florida population, which was listed at 16.6 percent in 2012.

That “majority of victims…have been white” doesn’t mean that most of the people the black defendants have killed have been white, by the way. It just means that most of the victims in cases involving either black or white defendants have been white rather than black. If you’re interested in a more in-depth analysis of Florida’s SYG law and race, this article gives a lot more information, and paints a picture of no small complexity, too long to summarize easily.

But let’s forget about the racial angle for a moment, shall we? What about the law’s effect on crime in general? Well, as you might suspect, it’s difficult to say, because different studies have found different things, as is true for statistical analyses of so many issues in criminology. But that doesn’t stop demagogues from using the issue to support their favorite cause.

18 Responses to “Who uses Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” disproportionately?”

  1. Eric Says:

    Race is a red herring and divide and conquer strategy in the Zimmerman controversy. The real target is the American working middle class.

    What is a key feature of the middle class? Individualism and autonomy.

    The anti-SYG is a power grab by the collective against the individual.

  2. Vermin Says:

    Hey,

    I’d nearly forgotten about this blog and how good a writer you are. It’s good to be back.

  3. kcom Says:

    “paints a picture of no small complexity”

    It wasn’t that complex when they presented it on CNN a few minutes ago. :)

    I didn’t see the entire discussion (I stopped in at a restaurant playing CNN), but I wonder if they even mentioned that SYG was irrelevant to the legalities of the Zimmerman case?

  4. Roy Lofquist Says:

    Fox Butterfield where are you? Violent crime and murder rates have been steadily decreasing for the last 20 years yet gun ownership has doubled.

  5. southpaw Says:

    I’m just wondering why it hasn’t occurred to the “attorney general” that stand your ground works both ways, especially in the Zimmerman case. While lecturing us on “our” “duty to retreat”, why doesn’t this apply to Martin? According to his star witness Rachel, Trayvon was sensing a threat of some kind, and his reaction was to do some “whoop ass” on Zimmerman.
    Holder is either a buffoon, or he takes everyone else for one. He doesn’t seem to recognize that his “duty to retreat” argument could and should be applied to Martin in this situation, not Zimmerman. But according to Holder’s brilliant legal mind, it would be Zimmerman who should have retreated, for the same reason it was acceptable for Martin to become aggressive. Apparently if a black person is shot after starting a fight, that’s bad, and it’s everyone else’s duty to retreat from any aggression by a black person.
    Aggression is a proper response to a threat for his preferred racial class, and inappropriate for any other. I don’t think I have ever seen a less qualified person than Holder. Besides being a political hack, he’s a blithering idiot.

  6. parker Says:

    As noted blacks should benefit from SYG laws given that the crime statistics demonstrate they are disproportionately the victims of violent crime. I’m hoping Iowa passes a SYG law to protect those who have to use lethal force in self-defense from being subjected to law suits. However, its always a good idea to flee a confrontation if possible.

    Holder and Obama are by nature racists and the TM-GZ story gives them an opportunity to foment racial division while distracting attention from their numerous scandals. They are not idiots, they are dangerous connivers.

  7. Eric Says:

    kcom: “I wonder if they even mentioned that SYG was irrelevant to the legalities of the Zimmerman case?”

    Not true. That SYG was absent in the Zimmerman case is one of those persistent myths that Neo rails about. It may have played little or no role in the trial record, but it was in the jury instructions, which means it was a factor – however minor – in the jury deliberations.

    http://www.flcourts18.org/PDF/Press_Releases/Zimmerman_Final_Jury_Instructions.pdf

    Page 12:

    If George Zimmerman was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in any place where he had a right to be, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

  8. neo-neocon Says:

    Eric:

    Indeed, SYG was in the jury instructions, but that’s the only role it played in the case. I believe that it was in the instructions in order for the jury to consider it, but there had been no evidence introduced about it during the trial because it did not apply, and it pretty obviously did not apply, because the fact situation was such that Zimmerman had no opportunity to do anything other than stay put—he was being physically restrained and had no ability to flee.

    In fact, he probably would have dearly loved to flee, and could not.

    I think that’s where the confusion comes from. It was in the instructions, but it was actually not an issue. At least, that’s my understanding of how it fit in.

  9. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “If George Zimmerman was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in any place where he had a right to be, he had no duty [obligation] to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.” Eric [my emphasis]

    Eric has the right of it.

    Opponents of SYG are NOT opposed to it because of any potential harm to criminals or minorities. They are opposed to it because it enables the individual to resist. On the most fundamental level it acknowledges that the individual has the unalienable right to life and may exercise that right absent the States’ permission.

  10. Baltimoron Says:

    The other thing that no one mentions is how few of these cases there actually are. The Tampa Bay Times database linked in the DC caller piece lists a total of 133 cases over six years (22 per year). The defendant won or had charges dropped in 73 of those (12 per year). And even that is probably overstating things since it looks like they confuse normal self defense with situations specific to the “Stand Your Ground” law several times.

    Anyway, Florida averages about one thousand murders per year (1,009 in 2012). Get rid of stand your ground and there’s hardly any change in the murder rate.

    I’d also add that with so few cases, racial disparities are probably just statistical noise.

  11. Ymarsakar Says:

    Stand your ground laws makes America very different from Britain. Your first responsibility would be to leave. You aren’t allowed to resist, at least not with disproportionate force.

    Europe has a lot of Islamic and muslim gang related rapes precisely because they don’t have any law that says you have a civic duty to not allow crime to happen so long as you aren’t doing anything illegal. Your job, as a European slave, is to save your life so the state can get its Full Tax out of it. Your duty is not to protect your “property” (which isn’t yours to begin with), nor is it to protect “other people”. That is the job of the state’s military and police arms. Their banning of handguns was merely a “means to an end”. They aren’t particularly against guns, since the government needs goons with guns to enforce things (like sexual slavery in Germany).

    That’s a very different philosophical interpretation than the American Republic’s concept.

    Without such laws, the South would not be able to have its citizens exercise full due diligence in the civic duty of protecting one’s civilization. You would only be authorized to defend “yourself” and only “yourself”. A slave’s self reaches no more than 5 centimeters beyond his shackles.

    There’s also the thing about “lawsuits” concerning negligence. If someone helps people in the street against a crime, and someone ends up injured or dead, then the law can say that you did something incompetent, unnecessary, or negligent. Pay up now or else.

    But if there’s a law that says you don’t have to “flee” first, then that changes everything.

  12. Eric Says:

    “If someone helps people in the street against a crime …”

    One thing that struck me about Zimmerman’s video walk-through that sharpie linked was that at least one person, perhaps two, were in position but refused to physically intervene to separate the two. Instead, they retreated and offered to call 911.

    They could have saved Martin’s life as well as Zimmerman’s.

    Yes, I realize the risks and fears of jumping into a fight between two grown men in the dark, but Zimmerman was pleading for help with his life in danger. And they just left him.

    Juxtapose Zimmerman’s active community ethos with his neighbors’ refusal to get involved and deference to 911.

    I am opposed to an America where Zimmerman’s ethos is wrong and his neighbors’ sheepishness is right.

  13. Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ Law Benefits Blacks More Than Whites | Grumpy Opinions Says:

    [...] Who uses Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” disproportionately? [...]

  14. Ymarsakar Says:

    Many people will not intervene because they don’t have the tools, training, or killer instinct to do so. Only some, a minuscule fraction, will choose to head to the sound of the guns. Everyone else is merely following “that guy”.

    The law by itself won’t make for an effective civic force/duty. Tools that let people “Get it done” is necessary.

    Many people who even carry concealed carry, will go into a store and call the police or 9/11 as a man beats a woman into the ground and then drags her off never to be seen again, before the cops arrive. That’s because America is the country of the gun and without one, many people feel helpless, untrained, unsure. They won’t take that uncertain bet. The police has more guaranteed force, but their reaction time is slower than helicopters in counter insurgency ops. More like APCs and tank response times.

    My personal focus was on ignoring the law and building up training ethos first. Only after a person was trained to the degree that he has 50/50 chances with a serial killer, do I then worry about the laws and post facto justifications.

  15. Ymarsakar Says:

    EDIT: Those who have concealed carry permits but left their gun in the house/car, will do so. I’ve heard such stories several times now from permit holders.

    I understand very well why people don’t physically intervene. It takes a lot of confidence for an individual to do so. Like rushing a bank robber, when everyone else is thinking “first guy that moves dies from the gun”.

  16. Ymarsakar Says:

    Some people have said tha tthey couldn’t fight Martin, and Zimmerman had better abilities to fight Marty off than them (older, weaker, etc).

    However, in a ground and pound, the primary weakness is that other people can boot the guy on top in the head and the guy on top can’t do much about it, other than get out of the way. Getting out of the way means he has to get off of the person he is pounding.

    I never think of a target (to be terminated) as someone “I fight” with using strength, speed, or size.

    The moment I decide to use physical force against a person, 90% of the time it would be for the mere goal of killing them. I’m not communicating “get off that woman, boy, or else”. I’m not communicating anything. I’m terminating something that will not exist after I’m done with it.

    Those who don’t want to get this “done” or lack the motivation, should not use force on others (verbal violence is still violence and force). Nor should they allow OTHER people to use violence against them. Simple. Hard though.

    If Martin was beating Zimmerman or a woman down, I would have to make a simple decision. Do I stand here and do nothing, do I do something and get the victim killed, or is it necessary that I use lethal force in defense of another.

    That’s a hellish choice. Pure hell. Martial art “non lethal force techniques” is the usual answer, but it’s not the answer my original instructors allowed me to get away with answering.

  17. Ymarsakar Says:

    In my personal life, I don’t really have a choice about it.

    The reason I’ve been able to obtain what little power I have was due to others. The duty to protect others was what allowed me to achieve the knowledge base I have now. Without that motivation, I would not have challenged things as they were. Protecting “myself” would have been easy and I would have needed only 5% of what I know now, for that. I wouldn’t have reached for anything more.

    The Meta Golden Rule also commands me to treat those in an inferior position the same way I expect those in a superior position to treat me. Whether that’s a position of class, money, morality, or power doesn’t matter.

    I have little choice in the matter. I owe certain things to certain people, and if I choose not to aid such people in the future… the power I have would disappear and I would never be allowed to perform as well as I could have.

    My only choice is to determine whether the action and force required is really “necessary or not” and how much of it I should apply, when, how, etc.

    But I cannot determine when, if ever, I will get the challenge to do so, or where it will happen, if ever. Fate can only determine that.

    If I refuse to use what power I have to aid fellow innocent humans…. that power will be stripped from me for an act of injustice. In that sense, not even the fear of death is a deterrent.

    I must act, somehow (if only using words to distract someone from torturing another human). Or else I will never be permitted to act in defense of another ever again.

  18. Eric Says:

    Ymarsakar,

    That last comment was cryptic.

    Besides that, I know what you’re saying. Serving in the Army in my rapidly receding youth did spoil me in some ways. One was taking for granted that if I needed help like Zimmerman needed help, and a soldier was in position to help, he would help. And vice versa.

    It’s not the same in civilian life.

    After completing the Combat Lifesaver course (not a medic, but should be able to keep your wounded battle buddy alive long enough to reach a medic), the instructor warned us about using our new medical skills off duty. He said if it’s within the military community, then go for it. But if we happen upon an accident in the civilian community, we might get in trouble for using a technique that exceeded Good Samaritan protections. Something to do with certifications, I think.

    The point is the assumption was that a soldier, when faced with a situation, would – as you said – head to the sound of guns.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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