Shadowy Corporate Front Group Pushed Law That May Protect Fla. Teen’s Shooter

Trayvon Martin’s shooter might be protected by a law pushed by the NRA and ALEC.

The killing of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teen, by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in Florida has caused nationwide outrage and for good reason. Zimmerman, who has a history of violence and an apparent obsession with crime and black teenagers, might not face any prosecution whatsoever. Even though a 911 call shows that he chose to pursue Martin, he still might be able to claim he shot Martin in self-defense. (ThinkProgress has a great rundown on the facts of the case.)

This is thanks to a Florida law called “Stand Your Ground,” which allows the use of deadly force in self-defense anywhere a person can go legally — critics have called this and similar legislation “shoot first” laws. ALEC, along with the National Rifle Association (NRA) — the leading gun rights group funded largely by the gun industry — has pushed this passage of this law in 23 other states and wants it to go nationwide.

ALEC is an ideologically conservative organization that unites state lawmakers and corporations to secure the passage of favorable policies. It drafts and promotes model legislation favorable to corporate interests in statehouses — including, apparently, the law keeping Zimmerman from being prosecuted.

Media Matters reports:

Florida’s statute on the use of force in self-defense is virtually identical to Section 1 of ALEC’s Castle Doctrine Act model legislation as posted on the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). According to CMD, the model bill was adopted by ALEC’s Civil Justice Task in August 2005 — just a few short months after it passed the Florida legislature — and approved by its board of directors the following month.

The Media Matters post includes a video clip from an interview with ALEC resident fellow Michael Hough in 2008 explaining how his organization works with the NRA to push “Stand Your Ground” laws across the country. According to a 2002 report, the NRA is a “longtime funder of ALEC.”

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