With the passage of Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law over ten years ago, opinions remain divided as to whether or not the law is actually a deterrent to violent crime. This was brought up again on the floor of the Florida Senate recently, when Sen. Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala) offered this observation:
"What has happened since 2005? We've seen violent crime continuously go down" due to Florida's "stand your ground" law.
Our partners at PolitiFact Florida decided to take a look at this statement to see if it was factual. PolitiFact reporter Allison Graves says that Baxley's statement rates MOSTLY FALSE on the Truth-O-Meter. Graves says, while Baxley has a point about violent crime going down, the trends he cites are not specifically related to homicides in Florida.
"We took a look at this and found that violent crime has been on the decrease in the United States since the mid-1990's," said Graves. "The problem here is that there's no state-by-state tracking of violent crimes in the study he's cited."
Graves notes that during PolitiFact's research into the claim, one report surfaced that painted quite a different picture. "We found a report about firearm trends in Florida from 1999 to 2014," said Graves. "That report found that homicides in Florida had actually gone up during that time period. That same report also looked at states without the 'Stand Your Ground'-type laws, and there didn't appear to be the same uptick in the homicide rates."
Graves points out that the firearms report is just one study, but Sen. Baxley's office didn't respond with evidence to back up his claim, resulting in a rating of MOSTLY FALSE on PolitiFact's Truth-O-Meter.
SOURCES: Violent crime rate and "Stand Your Ground"
- PolitiFact ruling
- Dennis Baxley, remarks on the Florida House floor, March 15, 2017
- FBI Uniform Crime Reporting statistics, violent crime, Table 5, 2005-2015
- PolitiFact, "Crime rates in Florida have dropped since 'stand your ground,’ says Dennis Baxley," March 23, 2012
- PolitiFact, "Donald Trump wrong that murder rate is highest in 47 years," Feb. 8
- Interview, Alex Bickley, legislative assistant to Sen. Dennis Baxley, March 15
- Email interview with Charles H. Rose, law professor at Stetson University, March 16, 2017
- Email interview, Bill Bales, professor in the College of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida State University, March 15
- JAMA Internal Medicine, "Evaluating the Impact of Florida’s "Stand Your Ground" (PDF paid-full version)
- Self-defense Law on Homicide and Suicide by Firearm," November 2016