Much has been written about the shameful killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida. This article is not about his killer, gun-toting vigilante George Zimmerman. Much has been written about him also. This article is about the unholy alliance that helped to create the ‘Stand Your Ground’ (or Castle Doctrine) laws that enabled George Zimmerman to get away with murder in Florida: The Koch Brothers, the NRA and ALEC.
ALEC, also known as the American Legislative Exchange Council, is a not-for-profit entity whose goal is to rewrite laws and produce ‘model bills’ that govern our rights. It boasts a $7 million a year budget, and calls itself the nation’s largest group of state legislators but, in fact, the majority of its funding comes from corporations and special interest groups. So, it should be no surprise that its laws mostly benefit corporate America. Among the myriad of corporations funding ALEC are Koch Industries and the National Rifle Association. ALEC has been instrumental in promoting the so-called ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws that are shielding Trayvon Martin’s killer. There are now 24 states with sweeping ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws, just like the one in Florida.
The Koch Brothers are billionaires who spend millions of dollars funding groups, like ALEC and the Tea Party’s Americans for Prosperity, to rewrite our laws in their own right-wing ideological image. Twice a year, the Koch Brothers invite conservative politicians and millionaires to a summit to discuss legislative agenda. Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas are two of the past attendees. Ergo, we should not be surprised about the Citizens United ruling. The brothers are not shy about spending millions to influence legislation and, perhaps, buy an election while they’re at it.
In the wake of the Trayvon Martin murder, the Koch Brothers sought to distance themselves from the ensuing controversy by releasing a statement saying that they had nothing to do with it. This is an utter lie. Michael Morgan of Koch Industries has sat on ALEC’s Private Enterprise Board for 10 years, is the Kansas State Corporate Co-Chair, and was the ‘Vice Chairman’ level sponsor of the 2011 ALEC Annual Conference.
Not surprisingly, the driving force behind the ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws is the NRA. Why? Simple economics. The NRA championed the original Florida law in 2004, and has continued to push for these laws across the nation. In August 2005, NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer asked legislators and lobbyists at a closed-door meeting of ALEC’s Criminal Justice Task Force to adopt the Florida ‘Castle Doctrine’ bill as an ALEC model bill. According to the NRA, her suggestion “was well received” and was approved “unanimously.”
So, there you have it. The dots have been connected. It’s getting easier and easier to buy legislation without the direct input of the American people who, especially in this particular case, live and die by these laws.
Writer’s Note: An article just popped up on my screen regarding the ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws. The Congressional Black Caucus, an all-black, all-Democratic group of 42 Senators and Representatives have introduced a resolution to repeal the ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws in every state, including Florida.