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National Civil Rights Briefing Addresses Stand Your Ground

JMR_Photography via Flickr

Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law continues to draw national attention. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights held a briefing in Orlando on friday.

Experts from the briefing draw different conclusions – sometimes from the same data.Urban Institute Fellow John Roman says a white person who shoots a black person is ten times more likely to be declared justified than the reverse. Roman asks: could non-racial factors explain that?

"The answer is, if you look at other disparities across the system, is these disparities are so much bigger than other disparities in terms of sentencing and death penalty and arrest rates and stop and frisk that it's really hard to believe that that's true", Roman said.

John Lott is the head of the Crime Prevention Research Center. He says Roman is extrapolating based on data from minority-heavy urban areas.

"If I were to go and take data from like Liberty City in the Miami area and then compare that to the state averages, you could say, 'That's not a very useful comparison, John.' I want to make sure that the two groups I'm comparing are the same", said Lott.

Lott says African-Americans disproportionately invoke Stand Your Ground in their defense – so it actually protects them. And, the people who most need a weapon to defend themselves are the most vulnerable.