Cited in nearly 150 publications in the past week alone, research conducted by Texas A&M University associate professor Mark Hoekstra is getting national, and even some international, attention in the wake of the George Zimmerman trial.

Hoekstra, a member of the Department of Economics, co-authored the research with research assistant and doctoral candidate in economics Cheng Cheng.

The research conducted by Hoekstra and Cheng focused on states that have enacted laws expanding the legal justification of the use of lethal force in cases of self-defense. 

“It's always nice to know that one's research is relevant to the issues that people really care about,” said Hoekstra. “One of our goals in this project was to inform people about the consequences of these laws—whatever they were—so it's nice to see that start to happen.”

Hoekstra and Cheng stated that the passing of “Stand Your Ground” laws did not decrease violent crime, but rather “lead to a statistically significant 8 percent net increase in the number of reported murders and non-negligent man-slaughters.”

As Florida is one of the many states to pass such laws, Hoekstra and Cheng’s research has become a topic of discussion among those debating the verdict passed by a Florida jury on Saturday, July 13.

 In concluding their research, Hoekstra and Cheng stated, “Our findings suggest that an informed debate over these laws will weigh the benefits of increased protections given to victims against the net increase in violent deaths that result.”