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Sun Nov 18, 2012, 07:42 AM

Don't Ignore the Evidence: Stand Your Ground Is Bad for Florida [View all]

As the director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, I've dedicated much of my career to researching the issue of gun violence. Too often I have seen policy makers make decisions about guns which were dictated not by the scientific evidence but rather by emotion and special interests. Thus their policy decisions have often reduced rather than promoted public safety. I hope the same phenomenon does not occur in Florida with respect to its Stand Your Ground Law.

Following the tragic shooting of Trayvon Martin, Florida Governor Rick Scott's Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protection has spent five months reviewing the state's Stand Your Ground law. I was pleased to hear that one of its monthly meetings would be devoted to scholarly research about the effects of the law since its passage in 2005. This was the Task Force's chance to take scientific evidence into its assessment of what has understandably become an emotionally charged issue.

The Task Force asked the University of Florida to conduct research on the impact of the state's Stand Your Ground law. Not surprisingly the researchers were unable to draw strong conclusions given the data and the short time frame they were allowed. But frighteningly, the Task Force seemed to take the researchers' incomplete report as evidence that Stand Your Ground is a good law. Task Force member and Stand Your Ground bill sponsor Rep. Dennis Baxley even went so far as to assert that the data supported his contention that the law is not associated with an increase in violent crime.

Contrary to that claim, the best available research evidence indicates that Stand Your Ground laws are dangerous, with few redeeming benefits to society.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-hemenway-phd/stand-your-ground_b_2119322.html

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