Florida's controversial Stand Your Ground law that gained national attention following the 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin has been linked to a surge in gun-related homicides, according to a new study. The self-defense law was associated with a 24 percent increase in homicides and a 31.6 percent increase in firearm-related homicides between 2005-2014, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found in its study released Monday.
"Our hypothesis was that these laws prevent people from taking alternative actions instead of using firearms in critical situations," Antonio Gasparrini, an associate professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a co-author of the study, told NBC News.
Taking data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Wide Ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research to analyze the monthly rates of homicide in Florida between 1999 and 2014, researchers found the mean monthly homicide rate in Florida was 0.49 deaths per 100,000 and the rate of homicide by firearm to be .29 deaths per 100,000 before Florida adopted the law in 2005.
To make sure that they had accounted for all other factors that may have contributed to the significant increase in homicides rates, researchers compared their findings in Florida with rates in New Jersey, New Jersey, Ohio and Virginia, which do not have Stand Your Ground laws.
More than two-dozen states have passed similar Stand Your Ground laws since Florida adopted the NRA-drafted law in 2005, The Washington Post reported. The policy removes the duty to retreat when confronted with a perceived deadly threat. Skeptics of the legislation refer to it as the “shoot first law” because the law permits a person to meet “force with force, including deadly force” if he or she has a reason to feel threated in a confrontation.
In the shooting death of Martin, one juror said that all other jurors discussed the self-defense law before finding George Zimmerman not guilty of killing the 17-year –old unarmed black boy, The Miami Herald reported. Juror B37, who only wished to be referred to by her court ID, said that the jury ultimately made its decision based on the evidence and “because of the heat of the moment and the Stand Your Ground.”