The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights announced it will launch an inquiry into so-called "Stand Your Ground" legislation for racial bias. The laws, which gained notoriety after the shooting of Trayvon Martin, eliminated the duty to retreat from a confrontation that has existed as part of the common law for hundreds of years.
According to the Commission, there are "some indicators of racial bias" in how the laws have been implemented. From the release:
Data compiled by the Wall Street Journal shows a near-doubling of justifiable homicides from 2005-2011 in states where SYG [Stand Your Ground] has passed. Moreover, their data shows that while white killers of black victims comprises only 3.1% of all homicides, such cross-racial killing constitute 15.6% of justifiable homicides.
A separate study by the FBI found "34% of cases involving a white shooter killing a black person were deemed as a justifiable homicide. Meanwhile, in similar situations, when the shooter was black and the victim was white, the homicide was ruled justifiable only 3.3% of the time."
The committee plans to hold hearings and release the findings of their study within one year.
In the last 7 years, 23 states have adopted "Stand Your Ground" legislation at the urging of the right wing American Legislative Exchange Council.
Florida Governor Rick Scott has also convened a committee to study Stand Your Ground but has stacked the group with supporters of the law.