Imagine returning home from a trip to the grocery store to find your house burglarized.
That's exactly what the Houston Chronicle reported happened to Mark Brown, who then took up his 12-gauge shotgun and headed to his upstairs bedroom, where he fatally shot the burglar.
Brown, who "stood his ground" and is protected under Texas's Castle Doctrine law, told the paper it was a horrible experience that he wants to put behind him.
"I hated it happened," Brown said. "For him, it wasn't worth it. For me, it wasn't worth it - a losing situation for both people."
These types of justifiable homicides have been on the rise in Texas, as analysis done by the Chronicle showed that such killings have increased from a statewide 32 in 2006 to 48 in 2010. There were 27 justifiable homicides in Houston alone, the paper reported.
Texas expanded Senate Bill 378 in 2007, so that a person can stand his or her ground beyond their home to include their vehicles and workplaces also.
Under the Castle Doctrine a person has certain protections when he or she uses deadly force to defend his or her home, car or place of work from intruders.
A study from the National Bureau of Economic Research last month revealed that 18 states passed the controversial Stand Your Ground laws since 2005. In its review of monthly data from the U.S. Vital Statistics so as to examine how the Stand Your Ground laws affects homicides, researchers from the bureau found there was an increase in the number of homicides among whites, especially white males. The bureau estimated that between 4.4 and 7.4 additional white males are killed each month because of these laws.
"We find no evidence to suggest that these laws increase homicides among blacks," the bureau stated. It said that such findings raise serious doubts against arguments put forward that the Stand Your Ground laws are making America safer.
"Our evidence and certainly some other studies floating around out there find that these laws don't work in the way they were intended to work," doctoral student Chandler B. McClellan of Georgia State University told Raw Story last month. "What we do see is a net increase in deaths."
When researchers at Texas A&M University sought answers as to whether these laws discouraged crime or caused violence to escalate, they too found no deterrence in burglaries, robberies and aggravated assaults. What they found, however, was that homicides went up by 8 percent. That translates to an additional 600 homicides per year in states that adopted the Castle Doctrine, the Texas A&M university study revealed.
"These homicides are largely classified by police as murder," researchers wrote. "This suggests that a primary consequence of strengthened self-defense law is a net increase in homicide."
Bill 378's author Sen. Jeff Wentworth wrote a piece for My San Antonio in April where he said, "Texans needed to know that the law is on their side when they respond with force to an attack."
He did clarify, however, that police may still investigate incidents and prosecutors may still bring charges against a homeowner, driver, or business owner if there are questionable facts surrounding a self-defense case.
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