The combination of state “stand your ground” laws and lenient gun regulations is creating unnecessary danger that often disproportionately affects minorities, according to a report issued Tuesday by the left-leaning Center for American Progress (CAP).
“Too often, dangerous people are getting access to guns and licenses to carry them wherever they please,” the report's authors concluded. “Too often, race defines who are the victims of abuses of self-defense laws and who can avail themselves of the protections those laws are supposed to provide.”
The CAP report, which calls for additional federal scrutiny of the stand your ground laws, points to research showing an 8-percent increase in homicides in 22 states that have the laws.
Additional research conducted by the Tampa Bay Times, cited in the report, found that shooters in Florida who kill black people in "stand your ground" cases are more likely to be found justified than those who shot a white person.
“This research suggests that Stand Your Ground laws exacerbate existing racial disparities in the criminal justice system,” the CAP report found.
The laws, however, enjoy significant support from the public. A Quinnipiac University poll issued last month, for instance, showed that 53 percent of registered voters favored the law for their home state, while 40 percent opposed the idea.
The report comes as the Senate Judiciary Committee was scheduled to probe the state laws, which allow people to use deadly force when threatened, even if they could retreat instead.
Among those set to testify was the mother of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed Florida teen shot to death last year by volunteer neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman. The case sparked a national debate over "stand your ground" laws, though Florida’s law was not invoked during Zimmerman’s trial.
The Judiciary Committee postponed the hearing late Monday, hours after a gunman opened fire at the Washington Navy Yard, killing a dozen people. As of early Tuesday afternoon, it had not been rescheduled.