Does Strengthening Self-Defense Law Deter Crime or Escalate Violence? Academic Article uri icon


  • From 2000 to 2010, more than 20 states passed so-called "Castle Doctrine" or "stand your ground" laws. These laws expand the legal justifi cation for the use of lethal force in self-defense, thereby lowering the expected cost of using lethal force and increasing the expected cost of committing violent crime. This paper exploits the within-state variation in self-defense law to examine their effect on homicides and violent crime. Results indicate the laws do not deter burglary, robbery, or aggravated assault. In contrast, they lead to a statistically signifi cant 8 percent net increase in the number of reported murders and nonnegligent manslaughters.

altmetric score

  • 57.224

author list (cited authors)

  • Cheng, C., & Hoekstra, M.

citation count

  • 5

publication date

  • September 2013