Does Florida Stand-Your-Ground Law Benefit Blacks More Than Whites?

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht
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Attorney General Eric Holder denounced stand-your-ground laws in a speech at the NAACP convention on Tuesday, noting they “senselessly expand the concept of self-defense” and could cause “violent situations to escalate."

However, Patrick Howley of the Daily Caller argues that getting rid of SYG laws will not help black people. Black people benefit far more than whites in Florida when using “Stand Your Ground” as their defense, he says. When made by black people, those claims are more successful.

Howley compared stand-your-ground data maintained by the Tampa Bay Times. The database shows that in the past six years, 69 white defendants argued “stand your ground” in fatal shootings, and 39 were considered justified. Of 32 black defendants who argued “stand your ground” in fatal shootings, 25 were considered justified. There are nine pending Florida cases from white defendants and eight pending from black defendants.

The law has been criticized as a “shoot first” rule, telling people who feel threatened with body harm that they have a right to use deadly force. The problem, as Holder put it, is that these laws skirt the person’s primary duty to retreat.

“We must confront the underlying attitudes, the mistaken beliefs and the unfortunate stereotypes that serve too often as the basis for police action and private judgments," Holder said in his speech. "Separate and apart from the case that has drawn the nation’s attention, it’s time to question laws that senselessly expand the concept of self-defense and sow dangerous conflict in our neighborhood.”

MetroTrends analyzed 4,650 FBI records of homicides and found that in states with stand-your-ground laws, juries favor white people who shoot black people. Black people who shoot white strangers have the lowest chance of being found not guilty, while whites who shoot black strangers have the highest chance of a not-guilty verdict.

George Zimmerman did not claim "stand your ground” in the Travyon Martin shooting trial; instead his attorneys argued the case like any self-defense case.

Sources: Daily Caller, Washington Post, Tampa Bay Times