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Friday, May 4, 2012

Data shows justifiable homicides have nearly doubled in Georgia ... but what does it mean?

During '03, '04, and '05 - the year before Georgia passed its controversial "Stand Your Ground" law in '06 - there were a total of 21 justifiable homicides in Georgia, seven a year on average.

During the several years that followed the law's passage - '07 to '11 - there were 65 justifiable homicides, or an average of 13 a year.

Justifiable homicides have nearly doubled since the law went into effect, and effectively broadened the circumstances under which citizens can use deadly force against people presumed to be threats to their property or well being. Meanwhile, the overall murder rate has continued to plummet.

This info is the result of an Associated Press analysis of Georgia Bureau of Investigation data. But the analysis ends there.

OK, so, presumably, a couple of things could be happening here:
A. Citizens have been emboldened by "Stand Your Ground" and more people are shooting people they perceive to be a threat.
B. The law broadened what constitutes a justifiable homicide, so more homicides are being classified as justifiable.

Currently, no one seems to know which is the case. Or they don't want to say. The AP writes, "Prosecutors and criminologists aren't certain why the number of justifiable homicides has jumped, but several were reluctant to tie the increase to the stand your ground statute."

And here's a non-explanation from Tim Vaughn, Oconee County's District Attorney:
"I don't sense that the statute has led to a greater change. You just have to apply common sense when evaluating the facts of each situation, and ask what a reasonable person would do in each particular situation. And I don't think that it's been a drastic change if you just apply that rationale."

Hm. Maybe more analysis is in order? Thoughts?

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