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Justifiable Homicides Spike in Georgia in Wake of 'Stand Your Ground' Law

"Stand your ground" laws have been under scrutiny in recent months due to the Trayvon Martin shooting.

 

The yearly number of justifiable homicides in Georgia has almost doubled since 2006, when the controversial "stand your ground" self-defense law was passed, according to the Associated Press.

The AP reports that Georgia averaged seven justifiable homicides per year in the three years before the law took effect. Between 2007 and 2011, it averaged 13 annually.

Most self-defense laws state that when citizens feel their lives are in danger, they have a duty to retreat if possible before responding with deadly force. "Stand your ground" laws eliminate or reduce the duty to retreat.

"Stand your ground" laws have been under national scrutiny in recent months after the . Florida's "stand your ground" law was initially given as a reason not to charge Martin's shooter, George Zimmerman, for killing the unarmed teenager. Zimmerman has since been charged with second-degree murder.

Many law enforcement officials are reluctant to tie Georgia's spike in justifiable homicides to the law, the AP reported. However, Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter told the AP he thought the increase could be linked because citizens might be more confident about using their guns when they perceive a threat.

Should "stand your ground" laws be repealed? Tell us in the comments.


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Count Raoul May 10, 2012 at 12:46 PM
This is a tough one. The Florida case obviously included an unarmed Martin. I don't think Zimmerman was thinking about the law when he did what he did. But what about the 13 per year in GA? Personally, I don't think human reactions have changed, just possible penalties. I cannot imagine someone conciously changing their behavior when being assaulted in 2008 vs. 2005 when GA did not have this law. What has changed, is whether the police charge you with justifiable homicide from the start, or let some jury decide it later.
brian ross May 11, 2012 at 01:42 PM
I have no problem with the law itself or the principle behind it. My only caveat is that these cases should be handled with greater scrutiny to ensure a lack of malice.

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