Stand Your Ground Laws and Homicides

40 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2012  

Chandler B McCellan

Government of the United States of America - Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Erdal Tekin

Georgia State University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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.

Keywords: homicide, stand your ground, castle doctrine, guns, crime

JEL Classification: I1, K14, K42

Suggested Citation

McCellan, Chandler B and Tekin, Erdal, Stand Your Ground Laws and Homicides. IZA Discussion Paper No. 6705. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2114885

Chandler B McClellan (Contact Author)

Government of the United States of America - Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) ( email )

1 Choke Cherry Rd
Rockville, MD 20857
United States

Erdal Tekin

Georgia State University - Department of Economics ( email )

University Plaza
Andrew Young School of Policy Studies
Atlanta, GA 30303
United States
404-651-3968 (Phone)
404-651-4985 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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