Center for American Progress Action

RELEASE: The Deadly Truth of Jeb Bush’s ‘Stand Your Ground’
Press Release

RELEASE: The Deadly Truth of Jeb Bush’s ‘Stand Your Ground’

CAP Action Issue Brief Details How Jeb Bush’s “Stand Your Ground” Law Has Contributed to an Increase in Murders and Disproportionately Affected Communities of Color

Washington, D.C. — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s (R) 2005 “Stand Your Ground” law was not only followed by a spike in both gun-related and justifiable homicides in the state, but also appears to have a real, disparate impact on black communities, according to a new issue brief, “Jeb Bush’s License to Kill,” released today by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. After Gov. Bush signed the nation’s first controversial Stand Your Ground law in 2005, the state’s gun murder rate jumped above the national average, remaining that way for the past decade. To date, at least two dozen other states have followed Florida’s example and enacted expansive self-defense laws.

Gov. Bush’s law also has imposed an increased burden on the black community and is used much more frequently to justify the killing of black victims. “[D]efendants who raised a Stand Your Ground defense [in Florida] were 24 percent more likely to avoid criminal liability for a homicide if they killed a black victim,” the brief states. The stark reality of the impact of this law rose to national attention following the 2012 killing of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, who was initially not even arrested for this shooting and was ultimately charged but acquitted because of Florida’s recklessly broad self-defense laws.

“The legacy of Gov. Bush’s Stand Your Ground law is hundreds more homicides across the country each year and an even heavier burden on communities of color,” said Arkadi Gerney, Senior Vice President of Campaigns and Strategies at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. “When he stands up in front of one of the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights organizations this week, it will be hard to explain this deadly law he pioneered.”

To date, 24 states have enacted legislation similar to Gov. Bush’s Stand Your Ground law, including Pennsylvania, Georgia, New Mexico, and Texas. Heavily backed by the National Rifle Association, the law was adopted by the American Legislative Exchange Council, which drafted model legislation nearly identical to the Florida law. Within one year of Gov. Bush’s signing, 21 other states had introduced the legislation, and 13 had enacted expanded self-defense laws. The results have been deadly, with an increase in homicides in states that have enacted this law and a similarly disproportionate burden on the black community, as seen in Florida.

”In pioneering Stand Your Ground in Florida, Gov. Bush set in motion a wave of similar legislation in states across the country that has had an undeniable negative impact on public safety and has a shocking racial disparity in its application,” said Chelsea Parsons, Vice President of Guns and Crime Policy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. “Ten years later, after the murders of Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, and hundreds of other unnamed victims of this irresponsible law, it is well past time for Gov. Bush to re-examine his support for this deadly law.”

Read the full report: Jeb Bush’s License to Kill by Chelsea Parsons

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Benton Strong at [email protected] or 202.481.8142.