© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Missouri and Kansas saw more gun homicides after 'Stand Your Ground' laws began

Guns at Frontier Justice in Lee's Summit, Missouri.
Chris Haxel
KCUR 89.3
Guns at Frontier Justice in Lee's Summit, Missouri.

A new nationwide study found that state laws allowing people to use deadly force in self defense were associated with increases in gun violence.

Since 2005, nearly half of states, including Kansas and Missouri, have introduced “Stand Your Ground,” laws, which were designed to allow people who felt threatened to defend themselves with firearms without requiring them to attempt to flee.

Rather than reduce gun violence, however, these states actually saw gun deaths go up by an average of 8%, according to a newly published study in the journal JAMA Network Open.

Kansas and Missouri saw some of the nation's most dramatic increases in gun homicides outside of the South.

From 1999 through 2017, Missouri saw a 31% increase in gun homicides and Kansas saw a 27% — far higher than the average.

“These findings suggest that adoption of SYG laws across the U.S. was associated with increases in violent deaths, deaths that could potentially have been avoided,” the study’s authors wrote.

Under section 563.031 of the Missouri Revised Statutes,a person may use physical force if they reasonably believe they are under threat and has no duty to retreat. Kansas allows for similar measures under K.S.A. 21-3211.

The study — published in February — investigated homicide and firearm homicide trends in 41 states, including 23 that enacted "Stand Your Ground" laws. It was conducted by researchers at Oxford University and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

The United States generally saw gradual declines in monthly homicide and firearm homicide rates between 1999 and 2014, but about half of states saw upticks in homicides during the study period, regardless of whether they had passed "Stand Your Ground" laws.

The researchers found no significant reductions in violent deaths from states that passed the policies.

As a health care reporter, I aim to empower my audience to take steps to improve health care and make informed decisions as consumers and voters. I tell human stories augmented with research and data to explain how our health care system works and sometimes fails us. Email me at alexs@kcur.org.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
Your donation helps keep nonprofit journalism free and available for everyone.