In his speech on Friday President Obama asked, “If Trayvon Martin was of age and was armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk?”
The simple answer is yes.
According to an analysis by the Daily Caller of a Tampa Bay Times study, black Floridians have benefitted disproportionately from Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” Law. Black Floridians account for approximately one-third of the state’s total “Stand Your Ground” claims in homicide cases. This rate is about double Florida’s black population. Additionally, black Floridians are successful 55% of the time when using a “Stand Your Ground” argument. This is at the same rate as the average of the population and at a higher rate than white defendants.
What is most puzzling is why the president decided to make a sweeping statement regarding “Stand Your Ground” that a very simple analysis could disprove. Before making accusations that the law is unfairly benefitting one race over the other, President Obama should have been more attentive to the realities gun violence in Florida.
Attorney General Eric Holder had an even more egregious mischaracterization of the facts. Holder stated in front of the NAACP, “We must confront the underlying attitudes, the mistaken beliefs and the unfortunate stereotypes that serve too often as the basis for police action and private judgments. Separate and apart from the case that has drawn the nation’s attention, it’s time to question laws that senselessly expand the concept of self-defense and sow dangerous conflict in our neighborhood.”
Considering the venue and the tone of the speech, the clear implication is that the Stand Your Ground laws are unfairly victimizing the black community. However, the studies clearly show this is not the case.
Before we try to use race as a reason to eliminate a law, let us make sure we are well aware of who is being affected by the law in the justice system.