7/04/2014

Concealed handgun permit holder stops stabbing and saves life, the warning shot permit holder fired protected by new Florida state law

Just a few months ago, this event might have been quite different with the permit holder facing jail.  The new law is part of changes made this year to Florida's Stand Your Ground law.  From the Florida Sun-Sentinel:
A bystander who witnessed one man stabbing another in Lake Worth fired a warning shot and then held the two at gunpoint until deputies arrived, according to an arrest report.
Had the man not intervened, other witnesses said, the stabbing victim likely would've been killed, a Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office arrest report said.
Deputies were dispatched to the Texaco gas station at 401 Lake Avenue in Lake Worth on Tuesday at about 7 p.m.
A man told dispatchers that his roommate, Paul Royes, 28, had been attacked at the gas station. According to the report, the man got into a Crown Victoria being driven by Royes. They were following the attacker, Luke Sherrill, 25, who was running from them. . . .
A note on the changes in the Florida law.
On June 20, 2014, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed HB-89 into law, thus preventing law enforcement from arresting (and prosecutors from prosecuting) a good Samaritan.  Prior to passage of the new law, they were arresting and charging people with aggravated assault (and trying to put them in prison for 20 years) for firing a warning shot in defense of themselves or others. . . . 
Whenever one discharges a firearm one has to be extremely careful.   Bullets can ricochet.  That said, there will be rare occasions when a warning shot might actually reduce the total amount of harm.  The new changes to Florida's law regarding warning shots were largely pushed by Democrats because of a case involving a black woman in Jacksonville, Florida.   Marissa Alexander's case received nationwide attention.  From ABC News:
The change, signed into law Friday by Gov. Rick Scott, was partly inspired by the case of Marissa Alexander, 33, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison after firing a shot during a dispute with her allegedly abusive husband.
Alexander's lawyers attempted to claim self-defense and that it was a warning shot, but the jury found Alexander guilty and she was sentenced to 20 years in prison under Florida's current sentencing rules.
An appellate court later overturned the conviction and ordered a retrial for Alexander.
Alexander's defense team said they are "grateful" for the change in the law.
"We learned today that Governor Rick Scott has signed the corrective Stand Your Ground Bill, which was advanced by the legislature as a result of concern about Marissa's case among others," read the statement. "We are of course grateful for the governor's actions." . . .

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5/03/2014

Black Pastor says Stand Your Ground laws help blacks

Even in Florida, some people are making sense on Stand Your Ground laws.  Blacks are more likely to be victims of violent crime and it is hardly surprising that they benefit the most from these laws, but it is something that has been ignored.  Opponents point to the fact that people who kill blacks under SYG laws are less likely to be convicted, but they ignore the fact that almost everyone shooting these blacks are other blacks.  The way I view it is that you have innocent victim blacks who are being attacked by criminals who are fortunately able to successfully defend themselves.  This is argument finally being made by some blacks in Florida.  From Channel 4 in Jacksonville, Florida:
In the wake of the shooting deaths of unarmed teenagers Jordan Davis and Trayvon Martin groups of protesters have been calling for change to the controversial stand your ground law.
A stand-your-ground law is separate from traditional self-defense. The law gives individuals the right to use deadly force to defend themselves without any requirement retreat from a dangerous situation.
Kenneth Adkins, Reverend of Greater Dimensions Christian Fellowship in Brunswick told Channel 4 that calling the law discriminatory against African Americans is false; Atkins said more often than not, the law actually helps African Americans.
"The majority of the people who have benefited from the stand your ground laws have been African American." said Adkins.
Adkins points to a Tampa Bay Times investigation done in 2012,  that showed a significant number of African Americans in Florida used the stand your ground defense successfully.
"Why don’t people who don’t like stand your ground? Talk to the people who have benefited from stand your ground," suggested Adkins. "If it had not been for Stand Your Ground 24 African American families in the state of Florida, their loved one would have been in jail," said Adkins. . . .

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3/27/2014

Move to repeal Florida's Stand Your Ground law overwhelmingly defeated by 83-31 vote in State House

With Republicans holding at 74 to 45 seat majority in the state House, Democrats couldn't even a third of Democrats to vote to repeal the Stand Your Ground law.  From the Florida Courier:
In a rare procedural move, supporters of repealing Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law forced a vote on repeal on March 20. The House debated and then voted down an amendment that would have led to the elimination of the stand your ground law by a vote of 83-31. . . .

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12/28/2013

Percent of Adult Population with concealed handgun permits in Florida, with one county having about 18% of population with permits

The number of permits issued for Florida is from November 30, 2013.  1,045,551 Floridians have concealed handgun permits, that is almost 7 percent of Florida's adult population.  Santa Rosa is the 30th largest of Florida's 67 counties.  It has 17.7% of adults with permits.  That makes committing a violent crime in Santa Rosa a lot more dangerous.  
While I don't put much weight on purely cross-sectional data, Santa Rosa may be somewhat more populous than the median country, but it has the third lowest violent crime rate (157.7 per 100,000).  That is much lower than the rate for the rest of the state.  The average rate across counties was 418.3 and the median was 363.8.  Indeed, its violent crime rate was very similar to the rates in the two less populous counties that that had lower violent crime rates.
WUFT has also done a study relating permit issuing rate and Stand Your Ground cases, but they can't find a correlation between the two.
A county-by-county analysis of concealed weapons permit ownership shows no correlation between the two. When the eligible population for permit ownership is compared to the county’s population, the counties with the most dominant permit ownership are clustered in the northern part of the state. 
Conversely, the counties with the most stand your ground cases are clustered in the southern part of the state. 
WUFT reached a close approximation of the eligible population by calculating the population over 20 in each county (you must be 21 to obtain a permit, but neither the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services nor the Census Bureau report the over 21 population) and by subtracting each county’s inmates. 
The result shows that Dixie County has the most permits with 15 percent of its eligible population owning a license, followed by Okaloosa County with 12.3 percent and Jackson County with 11.4 percent. . . .

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11/10/2013

Rep. Matt Gaetz, The Chair Of Florida "Stand Your Ground" Hearings, cites statistics from CPRC during debate



My recent testimony to the US Senate was quoted by Rep. Matt Gaetz during the Stand Your Ground debate in Florida.  He began quoting from John Lott's testimony at about 3:31 into this video and continues until 4:31.  His entire testimony is worth listening to and quite powerful.

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11/02/2013

Media Matters falsely claims Blacks don't benefit from Stand Your Ground laws and too many other false points to list in a title


Media Matters continues its hit-and-run tactics.  Their typical approach is: Make a charge, assume no one will check out their claims (after all most Media Matters links are to other Media Matters posts), not respond to any comments placed at other places because that might allow their readers to see those responses, and not allow me to respond to the attacks on the Media Matters website.  For a long list of previous false Media Matters claims see this link here.


The front page of Media Matters website now contains this headline: "Gun advocate John Lott Lashes Out at Trayvon Martin's Mother." Seriously?  I said Martin's mom was one of "two very sympathetic witnesses. . . ."  And that "it's very hard to say anything when you're having to deal with a mother who has lost her son, under any circumstances. I have five kids; I can't imagine what it would be like to deal with that situation."  What I did say was that they were sympathetic women who had undergone a horrible tragedy and that I couldn't imagine going through myself, but that Trayvon Martin's death wasn't caused by Stand Your Ground laws.  How exactly is that lashing out at Sybrina Fulton?

Media Matters responds to my last point about the Stand Your Ground law not being relevant by making a series of points:

Lott's testimony largely argued that African-Americans benefit from Stand Your Ground laws, a falsehood invented by the right-wing media. . . .
If you want to see evidence that blacks benefit more than whites, see my discussions here, here, and here.

As to the claim that Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis cases occurred because there wasn't the need to retreat, Media Matters claims: 

In Martin's case, Lott employed a right-wing media canard to state on NRA News that because "the defense was never raised," by George Zimmerman's attorneys that the law was absent from the case. . . .
As usual, Media Matters' discussion is at best selective.  I didn't rely solely or even primarily on "the defense was never raised."  In numerous places I have extensively discussed the ability to retreat.  Two options are possible:

1) Trayvon Martin was the aggressor and George Zimmerman was on his back with Martin on top of him hitting him repeatedly. In that case, there would be no chance to retreat, no possibility for that portion of the law to apply.


2) Zimmerman was somehow the aggressor.  If so, the Florida Stand Your Ground law is very clear and I had this in my testimony to the Senate.  Florida law already states that the Stand Your Ground provision is:

not available to a person who . . . initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless: (a) . . . he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant . . .  or (b) In good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force.”
Isn't it pretty clear that even under Florida law if you initiate the confrontation you aren't allowed to Stand Your Ground.  Indeed, I read that portion of the law during the Senate hearing on October 29th on Stand Your Ground laws and Media Matters has put up a post on that hearing.  The reason why the judge gave the jurors the Stand Your Ground law is so that they could read the above passage. 

Media Matters goes on to assert:

In fact, Stand Your Ground was cited by local officials as the reason Zimmerman wasn't initially arrested, an explanation of the law was included in instructions to the jury, and a juror later cited the law by name as a reason for why Zimmerman was acquitted. . . .
Jacob Sullum has a useful discussion at Reason.com about the jury instruction and Juror B37's comment:
The "stand your ground" language that the jurors heard is part of the standard jury instruction in cases where the defendant claims his use of deadly force was justified. The defense asked for it to be included (why not?), and the judge agreed, but that does not mean it figured in the verdict. While Juror B37 did utter the phrase "stand your ground" a couple of times in the interview to which Fulton refers, she also made it clear that she believed the essential elements of Zimmerman's story: that Martin was the aggressor; that Zimmerman was pinned to the ground, unable to escape, when he fired his gun; and that Martin was assaulting Zimmerman in a way that made him reasonably fear for his life. That scenario has nothing to do with the right to stand your ground, and Zimmerman could have used exactly the same defense in any state, whether or not it imposes a duty to retreat. 
Perhaps the jurors were "confused," as Fulton suggests, misunderstanding what "stand your ground" means. If so, they were not alone.
The issue of the initial arrest was one of simple self defense.  If one actually reads the link provided by Media Matters, there is no specific mention of Stand Your Ground.  Instead, the city notes:
Why was George Zimmerman not arrested the night of the shooting? When the Sanford Police Department arrived at the scene of the incident, Mr. Zimmerman provided a statement claiming he acted in self defense which at the time was supported by physical evidence and testimony. By Florida Statute, law enforcement was PROHIBITED from making an arrest based on the facts and circumstances they had at the time.  . . . 
As to the Jordan Davis case, I explained during the hearing that claiming Stand Your Ground defense of not having to retreat is applicable doesn't mean that it actually applies to this case.  I said that if Jordan Davis' Mom is correct and "her son was listening to music and someone shot him simply for listening to loud music.  There was no threat there," the Stand Your Ground law isn't applicable.  There was no threat that a reasonable person would believe risked imminent death or serious injury.

Again, to protect against Media Matters re-editing their post, here are screen shots of what they put up.  Click on either to enlarge.





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10/28/2013

Chicago Tribune opinion piece for Tuesday's Senate hearing: "In defense of stand your ground laws"

My piece at the Chicago Tribune coincides with the Senate hearing on Stand Your Ground laws tomorrow.  The article starts this way:
As Sen. Dick Durbin's (D-Ill.) Judiciary subcommittee hears testimony on "stand your ground" laws Tuesday, charges of racial discrimination will be the central focus. Two black women, one of them Trayvon Martin's mom, are expected to testify about losing their sons to gunshots by white or Hispanic men. It's anticipated that a Harvard law professor will also emphasize race. 
This racial angle is nothing new. President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have already weighed in, linking race and these laws. 
Nevertheless, Trayvon Martin's tragic death, which motivated this debate, had nothing to do with stand your ground laws. These laws allow people who face serious bodily harm or death to defend themselves without first having to retreat as far as possible. George Zimmerman was on his back and had no option to retreat, so the law was completely irrelevant. 
Who benefits from the law? Actually, since poor blacks who live in high-crime urban areas are the most likely victims of crime, they are also the ones who benefit the most from stand your ground laws. The laws make it easier for would-be victims to protect themselves when the police can't arrive fast enough. Therefore, rules that make self-defense more difficult disproportionately impact blacks. . . . 
The rest of the piece is available here.

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Senate hearing: "Durbin “Stand Your Ground” hearing Tuesday: Trayvon Martin’s mother to testify"

Tomorrow at 10 AM the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights will hold a hearing on Stand Your Ground laws.  A copy of my testimony is available here.  From the Chicago Sun-Times:
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) will chair a hearing Tuesday on the controversial “stand your ground” laws that played a role in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of his killer, George Zimmerman. Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, will be testifying. 
Durbin is holding the hearing in his role as the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights. The hearing was originally scheduled for September. 
From Durbin: “These laws, one of which played a key role in the trial surrounding the shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, give individuals permission to use lethal force in public places to protect themselves if they feel their life is in danger, without first attempting to retreat from the situation. . . . 
THE HEARING 
Witnesses: Panel one will include: Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH); Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL); Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX). 
Panel two will include: Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin; Lucia McBath, mother of Jordan Davis; David LaBahn, President, Association of Prosecuting Attorneys; Ronald Sullivan, Clinical Professor of Law, Director of the Criminal Justice Institute, Harvard Law School; John Lott, President, Crime Prevention Research Center; Ilya Shapiro, Senior Fellow, CATO Institute.

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9/16/2013

Some notes on John Roman's "Race, Justifiable Homicide, and Stand Your Ground Laws: Analysis of FBI Supplementary Homicide Report Data," Urban Institute

A copy of Roman's report is available here.  Apparently, the report is going to be used in testimony tomorrow before the Senate.

1) If you were to do this study right, you would look at the change in justifiable homicides in each state before and after the Stand Your Ground law went into effect.  You want to see whether the rate of justifiable homicides in a state changed after that state changed its law.  This paper doesn't do that.  Instead, it looks across 10 regions, but some of the states in those regions are changing their laws and others aren't.  Roman uses what are called year fixed effects, but he isn't using proper geographic fixed effects and that raises a red flag.

2) Roman doesn't know the proper statistical test.  Take his Table 3.


The issue isn't whether the coefficients for "white on black" are different from zero.  The question is whether the rate in non-stand your ground states is different from stand your ground states.  Thus, while 41.14 and 44.71 are statistically different from zero, they are extremely unlikely to be statistically different from each other.  Again, the real comparison should be did the rate of justifiable homicides go up in a category in a state after that state changed its law.  Making comparisons across states in a region could simply be picking up differences in those states.

Indeed, it is very likely that the coefficients for black on black (10.24 and 9.94) as well as black on white (7.69 and 11.10) are not different between non-stand your ground states and stand your ground states.


Take Roman's discussion of this table: "Racial disparities are much larger, as white-on-black homicides have justifiable findings 33 percentage points more often than black-on-white homicides.  Stand Your Ground laws appear to exacerbate those differences, as cases overall are significantly more likely to be ruled justified in SYG states than in non-SYG states (p = 0.02)." While it is true that his results show that whites defend themselves against blacks more frequently than the reverse is true, Roman ignores the fact that Stand Your Ground laws actually reduce this imbalance.  And the presumed question for this paper was presumably how Stand Your Ground laws altered this imbalance. 
In non-Stand Your Ground states, White on black versus Black on White coefficient ratio = 5.34
In Stand Your Ground states,  White on black versus Black on White coefficient ratio = 4.03 
So, if you believe Roman's results, Stand Your Ground laws actually improved the ability of Blacks to defend themselves against Whites relative to the ability of Whites to defend themselves against Blacks by causing the ration to fall by about 25 percent

3) Roman should be properly acknowledged for noting that unlike the data from the Tampa Bay Tribune, "The data here cannot completely address this problem because the setting of the incident cannot be observed" (p. 11).

4) The data in this paper uses justifiable homicides and Stand Your Ground cases are likely to only be a subset of those cases.  Ignoring the prior concerns, the question then becomes are you picking changes in justifiable homicides or changes due to Stand Your Ground cases.  To further make that point clear, there are huge changes that occur in terms of how the justifiable homicide data are reported across different states over time.  While often about 35 states report this data, a large percentage of the jurisdictions in even those states don’t report the data. What states and what jurisdictions within those statesreport this data changes dramatically over time. The implication is any changes over time might simply arise from changes in the states or portions of states that are reporting this data. 

The biggest problem involves how this data is collected. Police initially report the cases as criminal homicides. If it’s later determined to be justifiable, they don’t frequently don’t go back and recode the data. The problem is greatest for those deaths where the greatest amount of time elapses between the death and it is determined to be justifiable. There is also some evidence that recoding is less likely to occur in the larger urban areas where you are likely to have a greater percentage of crime involving blacks. If so, correcting this bias would produce even larger stronger evidence that blacks are more likely to engage in justifiable homicides. John Barnes, “Justified to kill: Why there are moreself-defense killings in Michigan than anyone knows,” MLive, June 12, 2012.  

Since many of the data isn't even collected on many justifiable homicides, many of the justifiable homicides in this sample are likely to be falsely labeled as non-justifiable homicides.  On top of that, the error is greatest in urban areas, areas where more blacks are likely to have used guns defensively. 

The appendix for the paper doesn't appear to understand that many of the states don't collect data on justifiable homicides in every year and that even when they do report some data, not all the jurisdictions within the state collect the data.

5) I don't understand why a regression similar to that reported in Table 4 isn't run on the data in Table 3.  Singling out when there is a single victim and single shooter, they are both male, they are strangers, and a firearm is used, but the SHR data used by Roman goes beyond that in ages and region. 

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U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights to hold hearing on Stand Your Ground Laws

The hearing will be on Tuesday morning from 10 AM to noon.  From Roll Call:
Trayvon Martin’s mother will be a featured witness at a Senate hearing on “stand your ground” laws next week. . . .
Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton is scheduled to testify along with Lucia McBath. Her son, Jordan Davis, was shot and killed last year in the parking lot of a gas station in Jacksonville, Fla. . . .
[Other witnesses include]
William Meggs, State Attorney, Second Judicial Circuit, Tallahassee, Fla.
Ronald Sullivan, Clinical Professor of Law, Director of the Criminal Justice Institute, Harvard Law School
John Lott, President, Crime Prevention Research Center
Ilya Shapiro, Senior Fellow, CATO Institute

THIS EVENT WAS CANCELED BECAUSE OF THE NAVY YARD SHOOTING.  IT WILL PRESUMABLY BE RESCHEDULED. 

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8/01/2013

Audio of my interview on Dana Loesch's show today

The audio is available here.  We discussed my latest piece at Fox News that examined Stand Your Ground laws.

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New piece at Fox News: Blacks benefit most from Stand Your Ground laws

Here is part of the discussion from my Fox News piece with my son, Sherwin:
. . . But the debate has everything backwards over who benefits from the law. Poor blacks who live in high crime urban areas are not only the most likely victims of crime, they are also the ones who benefit the most from Stand Your Ground laws. It makes it easier for them to protect themselves when the police can't be there fast enough. Rules that make self-defense more difficult would impact blacks the most. 
Blacks may make up just 16.6 percent of Florida's population, but they account for over 31 percent of the state's defendants invoking a Stand Your Ground defense. Black defendants who invoke this statute to justify their actions are acquitted 8 percent more frequently than whites who use that same defense. . . . 
Those who claim racism as an element of Stand Your Ground laws point to data compiled by the Tampa Bay Tribune. The newspaper examined 112 cases where people charged with murder relied on Florida's Stand Your Ground law, starting with the first cases filed in 2006 up until a week ago. Their "shocking" finding: 71 percent of those who killed an African-American man or woman faced no penalty compared to 59 percent of those who killed a white person. 
Yet, explosive claims of racism require more proof than that.  
For example, just because two people are charged with murder doesn't mean the two cases are identical.  
Using the Tribune data, blacks killed in these confrontations were 13 percentage points more likely to be armed than the whites who were killed, thus making it more plausible that their killers reasonably believed that they had little choice but to kill their attacker. By a 43 to 16 percent margin, the black men and women who were killed were also more often committing a crime. 
Further, there were also more cases with a witness around when a black was killed (69 to 62 percent). . . .

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7/30/2013

Trayvon Martin's mom calls for repealing Stand Your Ground laws

From the Miami Herald:
The mother of Trayvon Martin said Monday that she believed Florida’s Stand Your Ground law played a role in her son’s shooting death, but she wasn’t ready to support a boycott of the state for not changing the self-defense law. 
“The thing about this law is I just think it assisted the person who killed my son to get away with murder,” Sybrina Fulton, the mother of the 17-year-old from Miami Gardens, said at a National Bar Association event in Miami Beach. 
“I think we have to change these laws so people don’t get away with murder,” she said, adding that her son was unarmed and peacefully walking back to his dad’s place when he was initially pursued by George Zimmerman. 
Zimmerman, however, successfully pleaded self defense by arguing he was ultimately and violently attacked by Trayvon. A Sanford jury acquitted Zimmerman July 13. 
The exact role of Stand Your Ground — which allows a person who is in fear for his life or grave harm to use deadly force without having to first retreat — isn’t clear in the Zimmerman acquittal. . . .
Much weight is put the claim by one juror that they relied on the "Stand Your Ground" law in making their decision.
Only two jurors have spoken up to CNN and ABC, and one indicated the jurors discussed the law, which appeared in the jury instructions. 
Zimmerman’s legal team, which approved of the jury instructions, didn’t focus on mounting a Stand Your Ground defense, however. They said a common self-defense justification was all the 29-year-old man needed because he reasonably feared that Trayvon was going to gravely injure him during a fistfight.
Zimmerman’s legal team, which approved of the jury instructions, didn’t focus on mounting a Stand Your Ground defense, however. They said a common self-defense justification was all the 29-year-old man needed because he reasonably feared that Trayvon was going to gravely injure him during a fistfight. . . .
The jury instructions were standard ones issued in all self defense cases.   To say that the law was discussed, doesn't mean much.  The Stand Your Ground law contains the old traditional self defense rules which apply when retreat was not possible.  Given that, it isn't clear that even if what part of the law is being referred to here. 



Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/07/29/3529181/trayvons-mom-stand-your-ground.html#storylink=cp
 .
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/07/29/3529181/trayvons-mom-stand-your-ground.html#storylink=cp

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National Bar Association chief claims that Stand Your Ground law passed for financial motive

Why is it that gun control proponents keep questioning the motives of those with whom they disagree?  From the Miami Herald:

. . . “Their rhetoric doesn’t match the data,” said state Sen. Dennis Baxley who sponsored the original law and doesn’t want it changed. 
Baxley was singled out Monday by John Page, the National Bar Association chief who suggested the Ocala Republican, a funeral director, had a financial motive in supporting Stand Your Ground. 
“Rep. Baxley, I believe, his profession is a mortician,” Page said. “It’s not a way to draw up business.” 
Baxley called the comments “unfortunate and callous. For 43 years I’ve served grieving families.... In the end, this wasn’t really a Stand Your Ground case and what you’re seeing here is a political agenda for the upcoming elections.” 
When asked about the potentially small role Stand Your Ground might have played in the case, Page said the question answered itself. 
“Why do you need the law then? There is a common-law right to protect yourself,” he said. . . .

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/07/29/3529181/trayvons-mom-stand-your-ground.html#storylink=cpy 

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7/27/2013

Are Stand Your Ground Laws in Florida Racist?: Some regression evidence

I have previously posted here a long discussion on the simple averages regarding the characteristics of those involved in "Stand Your Ground" cases in Florida.  The data from the Tampa Bay Tribune is available here (also here).  Yet, there are real limits to using just simple means because that approach assumes that the cases involving blacks and whites are the same.  The Tribune has collected a lot of information on everything from the race and gender of the person shot and the shooter to the following questions:
Did the victim initiate the confrontation? 
Was the victim armed? 
Was the victim committing a crime that led to the confrontation? 
Did the defendant pursue the victim? 
Could the defendant have retreated to avoid the conflict? 
Was the defendant on his or her property? 
Did someone witness the attack? 
Was there physical evidence?  
Case type 
Alleged Home Invasion
Alleged sexual assault
Argument over love interest
Argument turned violent
Attempted car theft
Attempted home invasion
Attempted robbery
Burglary
Citizen enforcing the law
Dispute over money/property
Domestic argument
Domestic dispute
Drug deal gone bad
Fight at bar/party
Home invasion
Neighborhood dispute
Retaliation
Road Rage
Robbery
Roommate Dispute
Teenage bullying
Trespassing
Unknown
Unprovoked attack 
Case year
Before I lose people by reporting the regressions below, let me provide a brief verbal discussion.  There is a simple problem with comparing the mean conviction rates as I have done earlier.  Just because two people are charged with murder doesn't mean the two cases are identical.  Using the Tribune data, blacks killed in these confrontations were 13 percentage points more likely to be armed than the whites who were killed, thus making it more plausible that their killers reasonably believed that they had little choice but to kill their attacker.  By a 43 to 16 percent margin, the blacks killed were also more often committing a crime.  Further, there were also more cases with a witness around when a black was killed (69 to 62 percent).

Everything else equal, in cases with only one person killed, killing a black rather than a white increases the defendant's odds of being convicted doubles, though the result is not statistically significant.  If you also include multiple murder cases, killing a black increases the chances of conviction even more.

Regression looking at the odds of someone being convicted of murder for those who have killed one person.

xi: logit convicted VictimHispanic VictimWhite VictimBlack VictimMale DefendantHispanic DefendantWhite DefendantBlack DefendantMale DidVictimInitiateConfrontation WastheVictimArmed WasVictimCommittingCrime DidDefendantPursueVictim CouldDefendantRetreat WasDefendantonHisProperty DidSomeoneWitnessAttack WasTherePhysicalEvidence othermurdered  casetype_2-casetype_25 year_2006-year_2012 if pending=="Decided" & MurderVictim2sRace =="NA", or robust

Logistic regression                Number of obs =    66
                                   Wald chi2(29) =     .
                                   Prob > chi2=     .
Log pseudolikelihood =   -20.7842  Pseudo R2     =0.5408

-------------------------------------------------------
             |               Robust
   convicted | Odds Ratio   Std. Err.      z    P>|z|
-------------+-----------------------------------------
VictimHisp~c |   .0009022    .002332    -2.71   0.007
 VictimWhite |   .4247123   .9166847    -0.40   0.692
 VictimBlack |   1.174415   4.496167     0.04   0.967
DefendantW~e |    34.6601   89.92937     1.37   0.172
DefendantB~k |   4.915077   12.41981     0.63   0.529
DefendantM~e |    .340511   .5529446    -0.66   0.507
DidVictimI~n |   .0137108   .0348234    -1.69   0.091
WastheVict~d |   .0721759   .2389135    -0.79   0.427
WasVictimC~e |   3.043378   12.33578     0.27   0.784
DidDefenda~m |   1.635232   3.278233     0.25   0.806
CouldDefen~t |   1.475613   2.438766     0.24   0.814
WasDefenda~y |   4.778653   5.087016     1.47   0.142
DidSomeone~k |   22.62614   40.55751     1.74   0.082
WasTherePh~e |   .2503723   .2216539    -1.56   0.118
  casetype_3 |   7.49e+08   1.75e+09     8.77   0.000
  casetype_4 |   8.24e+08   2.21e+09     7.63   0.000
  casetype_8 |   1.74e+10   3.81e+10    10.76   0.000
  casetype_9 |   2.10e+09   5.48e+09     8.22   0.000
 casetype_10 |   1.60e+09   2.58e+09    13.13   0.000
 casetype_12 |   1.84e+09   5.58e+09     7.04   0.000
 casetype_13 |   1.08e+12   3.20e+12     9.37   0.000
 casetype_14 |   1.46e+09   4.26e+09     7.24   0.000
 casetype_15 |   4.84e+08   1.89e+09     5.12   0.000
 casetype_17 |   1.11e+08   3.26e+08     6.34   0.000
 casetype_25 |   2.62e+08          .        .       .
   year_2006 |   .6355305   1.720501    -0.17   0.867
   year_2007 |   .0931599   .4768633    -0.46   0.643
   year_2008 |   .0573326   .2092783    -0.78   0.434
   year_2009 |   1.008875   2.457142     0.00   0.997
   year_2010 |   63.62403   200.2368     1.32   0.187
------------------------------------------------------
Note: 1 failure and 0 successes completely determined.


. test VictimWhite=VictimBlack

 ( 1)  VictimWhite - VictimBlack = 0

           chi2(  1) =    0.04
         Prob > chi2 = 0.8386

. test VictimHispanic=VictimBlack


 ( 1)  VictimHispanic - VictimBlack = 0

           chi2(  1) =    2.55
         Prob > chi2 = 0.1100

. test VictimHispanic=VictimWhite


 ( 1)  VictimHispanic - VictimWhite = 0

           chi2(  1) =    4.91
         Prob > chi2 = 0.0267

. test DefendantWhite=DefendantBlack


 ( 1)  DefendantWhite - DefendantBlack = 0

           chi2(  1) =    0.23
         Prob > chi2 = 0.6316

Regression looking at the odds of someone being convicted of murder for those who have killed one or more people.

. xi: logit convicted VictimHispanic VictimWhite VictimBlack VictimMale DefendantHispanic DefendantWhite DefendantBlack DefendantMale DidVictimInitiateConfrontation WastheVictimArmed WasVictimCommittingCrime DidDefendantPursueVictim CouldDefendantRetreat WasDefendantonHisProperty DidSomeoneWitnessAttack WasTherePhysicalEvidence othermurdered  casetype_2-casetype_25 year_2006-year_2012 if pending=="Decided", or robust

Logistic regression                Number of obs =    78
                                   Wald chi2(32) =     .
                                   Prob > chi2=     .
Log pseudolikelihood = -22.785937  Pseudo R2     =0.5735

-------------------------------------------------------
             |               Robust
   convicted | Odds Ratio   Std. Err.      z    P>|z|
-------------+-----------------------------------------
VictimHisp~c |   .0000949   .0003103    -2.83   0.005
 VictimWhite |    .238639   .4879525    -0.70   0.483
 VictimBlack |   3.390464   9.382387     0.44   0.659
DefendantH~c |   5.55e-13   1.35e-12   -11.61   0.000
DefendantW~e |   7.55e-11   2.26e-10    -7.78   0.000
DefendantB~k |   1.91e-12          .        .       . 
DefendantM~e |   .2819811   .5277879    -0.68   0.499
DidVictimI~n |   .0078562   .0144318    -2.64   0.008
WastheVict~d |   .0895871   .2060086    -1.05   0.294
WasVictimC~e |   2.951656   9.628308     0.33   0.740
DidDefenda~m |   1.935009   3.692359     0.35   0.729
CouldDefen~t |   1.207219    1.75638     0.13   0.897
WasDefenda~y |    3.68262   2.776331     1.73   0.084
DidSomeone~k |   34.60143   52.71921     2.33   0.020
WasTherePh~e |    .236634   .2656798    -1.28   0.199
othermurde~d |   54.95588   119.1862     1.85   0.065
  casetype_3 |   240.5917   643.6653     2.05   0.040
  casetype_4 |   71.61738   152.6067     2.00   0.045
  casetype_8 |   4369.197   16026.35     2.29   0.022
  casetype_9 |   1132.737   3854.253     2.07   0.039
 casetype_10 |   183.0676   402.9866     2.37   0.018
 casetype_12 |   468.6694   1215.575     2.37   0.018
 casetype_13 |   553160.6    2506482     2.92   0.004
 casetype_14 |   1170.289   3029.217     2.73   0.006
 casetype_15 |    84.6564   416.3267     0.90   0.367
 casetype_17 |   24.15446   60.33759     1.27   0.202
 casetype_25 |   37.81938   87.88588     1.56   0.118
   year_2006 |   .1661872   .3844092    -0.78   0.438
   year_2007 |   .0113472   .0417041    -1.22   0.223
   year_2008 |   .0095219   .0326906    -1.36   0.175
   year_2009 |   .3936484   .9631961    -0.38   0.703
   year_2010 |   44.73127    123.881     1.37   0.170
   year_2011 |   .0005799    .001551    -2.79   0.005
-----------------------------------------------------
Note: 0 failures and 1 success completely determined.

. test VictimWhite=VictimBlack

 ( 1)  VictimWhite - VictimBlack = 0
           chi2(  1) =    0.57
         Prob > chi2 = 0.4505

. test VictimHispanic=VictimBlack

 ( 1)  VictimHispanic - VictimBlack = 0
           chi2(  1) =    6.13
         Prob > chi2 = 0.0133

. test VictimHispanic=VictimWhite

 ( 1)  VictimHispanic - VictimWhite = 0
           chi2(  1) =    6.41
         Prob > chi2 = 0.0113

. test DefendantWhite=DefendantBlack

 ( 1)  DefendantWhite - DefendantBlack = 0
           chi2(  1) =    1.51
         Prob > chi2 = 0.2198

. test DefendantWhite=DefendantHispanic

 ( 1) - DefendantHispanic + DefendantWhite = 0
           chi2(  1) =    6.22
         Prob > chi2 = 0.0127

. test DefendantBlack=DefendantHispanic

 ( 1) - DefendantHispanic + DefendantBlack = 0
           chi2(  1) =    0.26
         Prob > chi2 = 0.6105

I have tried other specifications, but there is no evidence that black and white defendants or black and white victims are treated differently.  For example, here is the simplest specification with just the victim's race and gender and defendant's race and gender as well as the number of people murdered.


. xi: logit convicted VictimHispanic VictimWhite VictimBlack VictimMale DefendantHispanic DefendantWhite DefendantBlack DefendantMale othermurdered   if pending=="Decided", or robust

Iteration 0:   log pseudolikelihood = -71.958988
Iteration 1:   log pseudolikelihood = -65.974128
Iteration 2:   log pseudolikelihood = -65.940597
Iteration 3:   log pseudolikelihood = -65.940546
Iteration 4:   log pseudolikelihood = -65.940546

Logistic regression                Number of obs = 111
                                   Wald chi2(9)  = 8.59
                                   Prob > chi2   = 0.4762
Log pseudolikelihood = -65.940546  Pseudo R2     = 0.0836

----------------------------------------------------
             |               Robust
   convicted | Odds Ratio   Std. Err.      z    P>|z| 
-------------+----------------------------------------
VictimHisp~c |   .3791321    .580078    -0.63   0.526
 VictimWhite |   1.009958   1.446379     0.01   0.994
 VictimBlack |   .4897925   .7041905    -0.50   0.620
  VictimMale |   .1134137   .1374925    -1.80   0.073
DefendantH~c |   1.415624   2.026775     0.24   0.808
DefendantW~e |   1.587212   1.956111     0.37   0.708
DefendantB~k |   2.120857   2.711162     0.59   0.556
DefendantM~e |   .7934841   .4977044    -0.37   0.712
othermurde~d |   6.797993   7.429584     1.75   0.079
-----------------------------------------------------


. test VictimWhite=VictimBlack

 ( 1)  VictimWhite - VictimBlack = 0
           chi2(  1) =    1.93
         Prob > chi2 =    0.1650

. test VictimHispanic=VictimBlack

 ( 1)  VictimHispanic - VictimBlack = 0
           chi2(  1) =    0.10
         Prob > chi2 =    0.7566

. test VictimHispanic=VictimWhite

 ( 1)  VictimHispanic - VictimWhite = 0
           chi2(  1) =    1.41
         Prob > chi2 =    0.2353

. test DefendantWhite=DefendantBlack

 ( 1)  DefendantWhite - DefendantBlack = 0
           chi2(  1) =    0.28
         Prob > chi2 =    0.5939

. test DefendantWhite=DefendantHispanic

 ( 1) - DefendantHispanic + DefendantWhite = 0
           chi2(  1) =    0.02
         Prob > chi2 =    0.8918

. test DefendantBlack=DefendantHispanic

 ( 1) - DefendantHispanic + DefendantBlack = 0
           chi2(  1) =    0.23
         Prob > chi2 =    0.6324

I suspect that there are real biases in how this data is collected.  An obvious example is how the Tampa Bay Tribune classified the Zimmerman case.


For example, many would strongly disagree with the newspaper's contention that Martin did not initiate the confrontation, that Zimmerman was pursuing Martin at the time of their confrontation, and that Zimmerman could have retreated to avoid the conflict.  The point here is that even using the data with the obvious liberal bias in terms of how this data was entered, the results do not support the claims of bias against blacks.

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Bill to ban Stand Your Ground laws introduced in House

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee reintroduced the so-called Justice Exists for Us All Act to Congress this past Wednesday. The Daily Caller has this:

Under the Justice Exists proposal, states that didn’t amend their stand-your-ground laws and require a “duty to retreat” would face a 20 percent cut to previously allocated funds. 
Additionally, to avoid the cut in funds, states would have to require local neighborhood watch programs to register with local law enforcement. . . .
Meanwhile the Congressional Black Caucus has launched a general campaign for more gun control.  It is too bad that they miss out on what motivates the gangs to begin with.
Gathered in Chicago on Friday, the lawmakers hosted an emergency summit to examine strategies for reining in urban shootings, with an eye well beyond the gun control measures that have lost all steam on Capitol Hill. . . . . 
The issue of gun violence was ubiquitous earlier in the year, as President Obama urged Congress to confront the problem with a long list of proposals addressing everything from gun access to mental health. The push was a direct response to December's shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where a lone gunman killed 26 people, including 20 children. . . . .
The issue of gun violence was ubiquitous earlier in the year, as President Obama urged Congress to confront the problem with a long list of proposals addressing everything from gun access to mental health. The push was a direct response to December's shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where a lone gunman killed 26 people, including 20 children. . . .

Meanwhile the Jay Z claims the Zimmerman verdict shows: "I was really angry about it. We all still knew it was still a bit of racism in America but to be so blatant?"   One has to wonder whether people actually listen to the trial.
"If you ask yourself the question, Didn't Trayvon have a right to stand his ground?" he said. "He was being chased. He fought back. He may have won. That doesn't mean he was a criminal." . . .

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7/25/2013

More evidence that critics of Stand Your Ground laws (including Trayvon's father) haven't actually read the statutes

If you read the actual state laws, people aren't allowed to rely on the Stand Your Ground provisions if they initiated the conflict.  From US News:
In an emotional speech before members of Congress Wednesday, Tracy Martin, the father of slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, urged lawmakers to consider a "Trayvon Martin Act" to amend Florida's "stand your ground" law.
"Stand your ground" allows people to use physical force in self-defense without a duty to retreat and served as the backdrop in the recent "not guilty" verdict for George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Martin's son Trayvon, who was unarmed.
The "Trayvon Martin Act" would amend "stand your ground" to make it illegal for a person acting in self-defense if that person was the initial aggressor.
Martin said the act would help establish a future in which people "can't profile our children, shoot them in the heart and then say that you're defending yourself." . . .
Here is the Pennsylvania version of their Stand Your Ground law.


(i)  the actor, with the intent of causing death or serious bodily injury, provoked the use of force against himself in the same encounter; or
(ii)  the actor knows that he can avoid the necessity of using such force with complete safety by retreating, except the actor is not obliged to retreat from his dwelling or place of work, unless he was the initial aggressor or is assailed in his place of work by another person whose place of work the actor knows it to be. . . .

Here is the relevant part of Florida's law:
776.041 Use of force by aggressor.—The justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who:
(1) Is attempting to commit, committing, or escaping after the commission of, a forcible felony; or(2) Initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless:(a) Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant; or(b) In good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force.History.—s. 13, ch. 74-383; s. 1190, ch. 97-102.
Isn't it pretty clear that even under Florida law if you initiate the confrontation you aren't allowed to Stand Your Ground.  

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