Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

Science and Science Fiction

Friday, November 13, 2015

Science and Science Fiction

Andrew Branca, the author of the “Law of Self Defense,” recently reviewed a study on racial bias and Florida’s Stand Your Ground (SYG) laws published in the Elsevier Social Science & Medicine. The study, “Race, law, and health: Examination of ‘Stand Your Ground’ (SYG) and defendant convictions in Florida” (Social Science & Medicine, Volume 142, October 2015, pages 194-201; pay-walled) makes troubling claims about racial bias and convictions.

The study’s authors conclude that a defendant was two times more likely to be convicted in a case that involved a white victim than a non-white victim; that the race of the victim was “a predictor of conviction of the defendant,” and that Florida’s SYG legislation “has a quantifiable racial bias.” The study’s abstract exhorts other states with SYG laws “to carry out similar analyses to see if their manifestations are the same as those in Florida, and all should remediate any injustices found.”

Are these “manifestations” of racial bias a matter of settled science? Does this study really provide evidence of unequal treatment under the law? Pulling back the curtain, Mr. Branca examined the underlying data used – a listing of cases compiled by the Tampa Bay Times, a Florida newspaper, “supplemented with available online court documents and/or news reports.” The study itself was based on a subset of 204 cases out of the newspaper’s entire dataset of 237. After a close analysis of every one of the 237 cases, Mr. Branca found that 181 (over 76 percent) did not qualify as SYG cases at all, based on the legal definition of the term. It follows that even if all of the 56 remaining cases were included in the study’s subset of 204, the vast majority of the subset (148 cases, over 70 percent) were not actually SYG cases. Accordingly, research conclusions drawn from the 204 cases as if they were all SYG cases arguably lack factual integrity and scientific reliability.

In response to these observations, the authors advised that they opted to use a definition of SYG – a legal concept – “as it has been used in the media around highly publicized cases (e.g., Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman) and not the legal definition” provided by Mr. Branca. Instead of evaluating SYG cases using the relevant definition applied by the Florida courts in determining guilt and convictions, the study employed a “definition” of cases “related to SYG” because, presumably, that’s how the newspaper staff decided to structure the original dataset. It’s helpful at this point to include a quote from Mr. Branca:

Surely it must be self-evident that whatever the impact of SYG on conviction rates, it can only be the “legal definition” as actually applied by the criminal justice system that could possibly have an effect, and that the “media definition” that is not applied by the criminal justice system (because it is not law) cannot have had any effect on conviction rates.

(His full response is expected to be published as a dissenting commentary regarding the study in a future issue of the Social Science & Medicine publication.)

Alleging a racial bias in the administration of justice is a grave charge and deserves a thoughtful, scrupulous and responsible analysis – particularly if the results are being used to justify efforts to “remediate any injustices” found to exist. We can hope for more objective analysis in the future.

IN THIS ARTICLE
Florida stand your ground
TRENDING NOW
Illinois: House Committee Passes Bill to Close Local Gun Dealers

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Illinois: House Committee Passes Bill to Close Local Gun Dealers

The House Judiciary Committee passed Senate Bill 1657 by a 7-6 vote.

Washington: NRA Files Amicus Brief in Challenge to Kitsap County Anti-Gun Ordinance

Monday, May 22, 2017

Washington: NRA Files Amicus Brief in Challenge to Kitsap County Anti-Gun Ordinance

Last week, attorneys on behalf of the NRA filed an amicus brief in Kitsap County v. Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club (Kitsap II), the case which challenges Kitsap County’s firearm discharge ban and range licensing scheme.  Kitsap Rifle and ...

Maryland: Governor Hogan Signs Apprentice Hunting Legislation into Law

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Maryland: Governor Hogan Signs Apprentice Hunting Legislation into Law

Today, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed House Bill 1427 into law.

From My Cold Wet Hands: Humorless Scold Targets Squirt Guns

News  

Friday, May 19, 2017

From My Cold Wet Hands: Humorless Scold Targets Squirt Guns

We have yet to reach Memorial Day, but the fun police have already set their sights on at least one cherished summer childhood activity. In an article for Pupsugar.com, titled, “Why Kids Should Never Play ...

Court's Commonsense Conclusion: "There Was a Gun" Isn't Enough to Justify Issuing a Restraining Order

Second Amendment  

Friday, May 19, 2017

Court's Commonsense Conclusion: "There Was a Gun" Isn't Enough to Justify Issuing a Restraining Order

The Supreme Court of North Dakota confirmed this week that simply possessing a handgun while on one’s own private property cannot support a finding of "disorderly conduct" under the state’s disorderly conduct restraining order law. ...

Federal Lawsuit Challenging California’s Ban on Standard Capacity Magazines Filed

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Federal Lawsuit Challenging California’s Ban on Standard Capacity Magazines Filed

Today, May 18, the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) announced it is supporting, along with the California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA), an important Second Amendment lawsuit challenging California’s ban on the possession ...

Bloomberg's Everytown Creates "Authors Council" to Push Anti-Gun Propaganda

News  

Friday, May 19, 2017

Bloomberg's Everytown Creates "Authors Council" to Push Anti-Gun Propaganda

As if the country’s media weren’t already sufficiently co-opted by anti-gun advocates, this week, Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety announced an effort to pervert an additional facet of American entertainment. The billionaire bank-rolled interest group has ...

Nevada: Governor Sandoval Signs AB 118!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Nevada: Governor Sandoval Signs AB 118!

Today, May 22, Governor Brian Sandoval signed important pro-gun legislation, Assembly Bill 118, into law.  AB 118, sponsored by Assemblyman Skip Daly, will allow members of the military and those who have received an honorable ...

California: Draft "Assault Weapon" Regulation Language Now Available

Thursday, May 18, 2017

California: Draft "Assault Weapon" Regulation Language Now Available

Today, May 18, a draft copy of the "Assault Weapon" regulations has been made available

Kansas: Senate Committee Passes Gun Free Zone Legislation, Again

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Kansas: Senate Committee Passes Gun Free Zone Legislation, Again

Last week, the Senate Committee of the Whole referred an amended version of House Bill 2278 back to the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -
NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.