Yesterday a jury found George Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder. It is widely argued that Florida’s stand your ground (SYG) statute-- which was drafted with the aid of the NRA, considered by the defense, and studied by Zimmerman in a criminal litigation course-- was at play. The SYG statute allows a person to use proportionate force when attacked with no duty to retreat or escape. More than 20 states have SYG laws.
Researchers at the MetroTrends urban institute analyzed 4,650 FBI records of homicides in which a person killed a stranger with a handgun. (See the table below.) In SYG states, 13.6% of homicides under these circumstances were found to be justified, versus 7.2% in non-SYG states. Examined in the context of race, homicides are far more commonly ruled as justifiable in cases of white-on-black killings than any other kind. SYG drastically increases the likelihood of a not-guilty finding in a homicide, but only when a white person kills a black person.