After the "not guilty" verdict for George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin, protests have sparked up and heated exchanges on social media are in full swing. Lots of people have cooled off over the weekend, but many are just getting going.
One of the byproducts of the Zimmerman/Martin case is the launch of grassroots groups that advocate for one side or the other, or even just for a cause related to the whole affair.
One such group is Moms Demand Action. Their chief concern seems to be gun violence in general. They point to the Trayvon Martin case a one example of what they see as a growing problem in America.
Trayvon, a 17-year-old victim of gun violence, was sadly one of the children and teens shot and killed every 3 hours and 15 minutes in America. Gun violence is a public health crisis of epidemic proportions in our country and, unchecked by Congress and many state legislatures, continues to spiral out of control.
The group takes particular umbrage with Stand Your Ground laws, while others say they save lives.
Stand Your Ground laws, which give everyday citizens more leeway to shoot than the U.S. military gives to our soldiers in war zones, endanger our children, families and communities. These laws grow even more dangerous when coupled with some states' permissive concealed carry policies that empower untrained, average citizens to carry a gun, and turn everyday conflicts into deadly tragedies.
The group points to a study that they say backs their claims. They also point to a seeming racial disparity in the Stand Your Ground cases.
A recent Texas A&M study analyzed 20 states with Stand Your Ground laws, including Florida, and found that the laws do not deter violent crime. In fact, there is a clear increase in homicides in those states, resulting in up to 700 more shooting deaths nationwide each year. Stand Your Ground laws also disproportionately affect communities of color. According to an Urban Institute study, when white shooters kill black victims, 34 percent of the resulting homicides are deemed justifiable, while only 3 percent of deaths are ruled justifiable when the shooter is black and the victim is white.
One of the toughest things to prove in situations like this, even with data, is causality. Certainly, there are more homicides in states with Stand Your Ground laws. Those numbers can't be denied. But advocates say that the homicide rate is not a result of the laws, but the reason the laws were put in place in the first place.
The argument, with data on both sides, is sure to go on for a while.