A further note on justifiable-homicide stats

I observed yesterday that the numbers on rising “justifiable homicide” rates

represent not a rise in the rate at which some group is getting killed — as mentioned, homicide rates per capita in Florida are down from 2005, not up, and violent crime rates in the state are sharply down — but rather successful assertions of self-defense, in other words, a shift from one category of homicide to another.

From Clayton Cramer’s Blog, this clarification of the point:

As I pointed out in my book Firing Back, the UCR justifiable homicide numbers are based on initial police reports, and are not corrected as subsequent police investigation, district attorney investigation, grand jury deliberations, or trial cause revision of criminal charges to justifiable or excusable homicide.

If so, then both the “before” and the “after” numbers may be capturing only cases of justification successfully asserted at the initial police stage, and missing some cases in which defendants have successfully asserted justifiability at a later stage. Cramer also speculates further:

What we may be seeing here is not that justifiable homicides are actually increasing (although they may be), but that many killings that were initially considered crimes, but were later corrected to justifiable or excusable homicide, are now being declared justifiable much earlier in the process.

More at Shall Not Be Questioned, which takes the view that “CD [Castle Doctrine] and SYG don’t honestly change much, and in most states, is just adjusting the statutes to match what juries will routinely decide in most of these cases.”


  • ‘Tis better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.

  • I’m wondering if the decrease in violent crimes can be attributed to moving incidents from the violent crime – homicide column to the justifiable self-defense column. Besides the deterrent effect, using a gun in self-defense tends to convert violent criminals into non-violent cadavers.

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