New study says Florida's Black teens make up over 70 percent of all adolescent gun-related homicides since 'stand your ground'


  • Photo by Erin Sullivan
Florida’s controversial NRA-backed “stand your ground” laws have proven over and over again to be inherently racist. Now, a recent study shows that Black teens in Florida have been dying at disproportionate rates since these laws went into effect.

The study, authored by researchers at the University of Oxford and the University of Pennsylvania and funded by the Joyce Foundation, found that since “stand your ground” debuted in 2005, teenage gun-related homicides in Florida (between 15-19 years of age, and not counting suicides) have jumped to 2.16 deaths per 100,000, which is significantly up from 1.53 deaths for every 100,000.

However, it’s worth noting that the same study also found that the majority of these homicides involved Black teens. While white teens also saw a bump in homicides after 2005, rising from 0.56 to 0.61 for every 100,000, Black teens increased from a massive 0.97 per every 100,000 teens to 1.55.

In other words, Black teens made up 63.5 percent of all adolescent firearm homicides before “stand your ground” and 71.8 percent after the laws went into effect.

“Our analysis indicates that Florida’s Stand Your Ground is associated with a significant increase in firearm homicide and may also exacerbate racial disparities,” says the study.
It’s important to remember that this study is just the latest to highlight “stand your ground’s” blatantly racial bias. In 2015, a study published in Harvard’s Social Science & Medicine journal found that defendants in Florida were twice as likely to be convicted in cases involving white victims than they were in cases with victims of color.

Plus, another study from the Urban Institute found that when both the shooter and victim are white, 11 percent of these cases were ruled as “justifiable,” but when both parties were Black, the rate was just 8 percent. And, as you can probably guess, when the shooter is white and the victim is Black, the rate of “justifiable” homicides jumps to a whopping 34 percent, and when the shooter is Black and the victim is white, that "justifiable" rate drops to 3 percent.

To recap, "stand your ground" laws essentially give individuals the right to use deadly force in response to a threat, without the fear of criminal prosecution. And, a recent change shifting the burden of proof to the state has made it even easier for defendants to avoid serving a prison sentence.

But while the intent behind “stand your ground” may certainly sound reasonable to some, the problem is that these laws only give the shooters unbridled confidence to kill, and as more and more studies suggest, Florida’s Black teenagers are paying the price.

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