The tragic case of Trayvon Martin — a black teen who was gunned down by a man acting as a “neighborhood watch” volunteer who has yet to be prosecuted — is now a national outrage.

Slate’s Emily Bazelon explains that part of the reason why Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman, was not arrested by police is because of the expansive definition of self defense offered by Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law that it passed in 2005. This law authorizes Floridans to use deadly force if they even think they are in danger, which is the justification that Zimmerman offered.

The Center for Media and Democracy’s Brendan Fischer reveals how the National Rifle Association (NRA) — the leading gun rights lobby funded largely by the gun industry — worked with the corporate front group the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to pass the “Stand Your Ground” law in 2005:

Florida Senator Durell Peadon, an ALEC member, introduced the law in his state and it passed in early 2005; the NRA was behind the bill and its lobbyist Marion Hammer reportedly “stared down legislators as they voted.” After Governor Jeb Bush signed it into law, Hammer presented the bill to ALEC’s Criminal Justice Task Force (now known as the Public Safety and Elections Task Force) months later.

As the Center for Media and Democracy has uncovered, the NRA boasted that “[h]er talk was well-received,” and the corporations and state legislators on the Task Force voted unanimously to approve the bill as an ALEC model. As CMD and Common Cause have noted, ALEC Task Force meetings are closed to the press and public, but corporations and ideological special interests or trade groups like the NRA vote as equals with elected officials. At the time, as CMD has documented, Wal-Mart was the corporate co-chair of the Task Force. Since becoming an ALEC model, 16 states have passed laws that contain provisions identical or similar to the ALEC “Castle Doctrine Act.” In 2007 it was passed in four states and highlighted by ALEC on their “legislative scorecard,” as discovered by Common Cause.

For what it’s worth, one of the authors of the 2005 law has argued that it should not be used to protect Zimmerman and the circumstances mean that it does not apply. Yet as the judicial system goes to work on examining the case, NRA and ALEC’s pet law may deny Martin justice.

 

Filed under: Plutocrats

August 7, 2012
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  • Gordon Hill

    It sounds like the man needs to be arrested.I mean it sounds like he shoot before he seen a weapon or felt a threat.Plus there wouldn’t a gun involved except his. As tragic as it was.Thats one mans mistake.The whole country of legal gun owners should not get the heat.How many lives is saved each year because a citizen had a weapon to defend his home and family.The goverrnment passed laws that we got to wear seatbelts because it saves lives.Not all Citizens wear them so should they tell the car manufactors to quit installing them.

    • Flybum

      I totally agree with you Gordon. What happened was sad and inexcusable and once all of the facts are known a judgment should be rendered accordingly but the whole reason for the law being passed was because of the lawlessness that threatens our neighborhoods. If 80% of crimes are committed by persons of a certain race and appearance then people cannot help but suspect someone fitting that profile of being up to no good even though it is “politically incorrect” to profile. It appears that what happened was a case of bad judgment on the part of the shooter, and the shooter might have been far more paranoid than most people and that is how bad things happen. Why isn’t the national news reporting every crime that a person fitting that profile has committed on law abiding citizens trying to enjoy the peace and tranquility of their neighborhoods and why are they not reporting the times when a home is successfully defended against home invasion? Of course, there will be far more people able to protect themselves and their families with what the NRA advocates, than there will be mistakes like this one. My prayers and sympathy are with Trayvon Martin’s family but it wasn’t the law that is to blame for what happened. It was past human behavior mixed with the paranoia of a well-meaning citizen that caused it. People in law enforcement will have to deal with the outcome in an appropriate manner.

  • think twice

    Agree w/gordon hill..question with the executive order be followed up by a big push banning guns?
    denninger on this issue:
    http://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?post=203672
    more today:
    Anti-Gun Alert! The White House Has Rewritten the Second Amendment

    March 19, 2012
    By Sara Noble

    “If ever time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.”
    – Samuel Adams

    Click here to check out the White House website. They have not-so-subtly rewritten the Second Amendment to the Constitution.

    They have worded the Second Amendment to read –

    The Second Amendment gives citizens the right to bear arms.

    The Second Amendment, of course, FORBIDS the government from interfering with the citizens’ pre-existing right to bear arms. This bald-faced lie fits their anti-gun agenda. If a right comes “from” the State, then the State can revoke it.
    The actual Second Amendment wording in the Constitution is as follow –

    A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

    Why would they change the wording to this amendment unless they have a devious motive? Why change it?

    Thanks to George Thompson for the tip

    govt buying ammo and no to citizens and vendors
    http://beforeitsnews.com/story/1914/592/FYI:_Government_Buying_Out_All_The_5.56_Military_Surplus_Am
    mo_Is_Telling_Ammo_Dealers_To_Stop_Selling_To_Their_Vendors_Civilians..html

  • CatKinNY

    Well, I see that the gun nuts are well represented here. I find it shocking that in light of the death of a middle class kid, who was exactly where he should have been, the response of all three posters here is to worry that maybe the government will alter a law that enabled a man with a violent record to own a gun, and to pursue and murder a kid armed with a bag of Skittles. If this law prevents the prosecution of George Zimmerman, I sincerely hope that some patriots form a posse, hunt him down and lynch him. If the law won’t send the message that you’d better ask questions first and shoot later, it’s time for the citizens militia to convey it.

    • Flybum

      It is us gun nuts that have protected your freedoms throughout history. You are totally naive if you think that the government and criminals are the only ones who should have guns. It is unfortunate that we need guns for self-protection and for protection against tyranny (ask the Armenians, the Jews, the Russians, the Poles). They can tell you why guns are a necessary evil. But then I guess maybe some people would prefer the gas chamber over defending their families. Ask yourself what you would do if an armed intruder broke into your home in the middle of the night and there was no time to summon the police.

      • Mcarey60

        So your answer is that the 17 year old should have been armed so when the “gun nut” started following him he could just turn and fire? That’s really naive and completely in form for the extremist of either party. All black and white and no gray.The real issue is overly aggressive people feeling that the gun makes for the great equalizer so they go out of their way to look for reasons to use it. Because I’m larger than average apparently makes me a “threat” to shorter people? I have no problem with reasonable responsible adults having a weapon. But that to often is not the case, and certainly doesn’t appear to be the situation here.

      • CatKinNY

        You completely missed the point of my post. Your kneejerk response to the murder of a teenager on a street where he had every right to be was to worry that it might result in the state of Florida amending a law that allowed an adult with a record to kill a kid without one, and then skip away scott free. If you actually cared about guns protecting people from criminals, your gut would have told you something very different in this case; that it didn’t makes you one of those one issue idiots drowning our democracy. If someone broke into my home in the middle of the night, I’d cut them in half with my M16 and regret only the mess I’d have to clean up. However, when I see a black kid walking down the street in my white neighborhood, it doesn’t make my trigger finger itchy at all, even when he has his hood up in the rain, because I know that a lot of our teenagers actually have black friends from our integrated HS.

  • Jrbarnes

    The law will only protect Zimmerman if the Grand Jury and/or a trial jury decide that he was protecting himself in self defense. If they decide he was not, the law will not protect him. That is the way laws work and are supposed to work. They are not designed to prosecute or protect someone because some segment of the citizenry is upset.

  • Edwyne Rouchelle

    Trayvon Martin was not an intruder. He was not armed (unless you call a package of Skittles (candy) for his younger brother and a can of iced tea ‘armed’). He was not in Zimmerman’s or anyone else’s house, but was on his way back to the home where he was invited. The only “offense” I see here, Flybum, is Trayvon Martin was black. But, he was also a minor and Zimmerman broke all kinds of laws, on his way to murdering a defenseless, innocent child. It was not Trayvon Martin who was ever out of line or threatening Zimmerman; it was Zimmerman who threatened and terrorized this child from the moment he set eyes upon him. But, of course you know that already. That’s why you’re putting up such an argument. BTW, I noticed you didn’t mention that we should ask the African Americans about how guns were a necessary evil in protecting them against tyranny. Just the opposite has been true in their case, hasn’t it, Flybum? I’ll stand with CatKin on this one.

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