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No Surprise Here: ABA Opposes Self-Defense and Stand Your Ground Laws

Friday, August 15, 2014

The American Bar Association (ABA), which supports handgun registration and handgun owner licensing, supports a ban on general-purpose semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15, thinks the Consumer Products Safety Commission should dictate what kind of firearms are “safe” enough to manufacture, supports legislation to ban the manufacture of pistols that don’t micro-stamp ammunition, thinks that anti-gun groups should be able to file frivolous lawsuits against the firearm industry, and opposes “shall issue” carry permit laws and federal “Right-to-Carry” reciprocity legislation has come out against Stand Your Ground laws.

Who, pray tell, could have predicted it?

The ABA contends that Stand Your Ground laws increase homicides, but the four studies it cites for that theory suffer serious limitations. The Tampa Bay Tribune, which conducted one of the studies, admitted that it reviewed only a small number of cases, thus its findings couldn’t be considered conclusive. Two of the remaining three studies used data which exclude a significant percentage of defensive homicides and which, even with respect to those that are included, don’t indicate whether a Stand Your Ground law was invoked. The fourth study used data that don’t distinguish between criminal homicides, to which such laws are irrelevant, and defensive homicides, let alone distinguish between defensive homicides in which such laws were and weren’t invoked.

Most states now have some form of a Stand Your Ground law, and in 2012 the nation’s murder rate fell to a 48-year low, nearly an all-time low. Also, preliminary FBI data indicate that the murder rate fell again in 2013.  The Tribune’s study alleged that the cases it reviewed indicated racial disparities favoring whites, but economist John Lott has shown that black defendants who invoked Stand Your Ground laws were acquitted more frequently than whites.

Stand Your Ground laws are not, as gun control advocates claim, a license to kill. They can be successfully invoked only if the defender did not initiate the confrontation, the threat to the defender was imminent, the force used in defense was proportional to the threat, and the use of force satisfies a “reasonable person” standard.

Gun control supporters, like the ABA, especially try to undermine the self-defense uses of firearms, because they realize that the American people support the right to arms for defensive purposes, the Supreme Court has ruled that laws that prevent people from using arms for defensive purposes likely cannot survive constitutional scrutiny, and as long as these facts remain, the kind of gun restrictions the ABA favors have little chance of becoming reality.

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