The panel created by Gov. Rick Scott to review the state’s stand-your-ground law completed its report last week. This followed last year’s shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teen killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer who claimed he was threatened.
Perhaps it won’t surprise you to learn the panel did not recommend any major changes to the law, which allows those who feel their life is in danger in public to use deadly force.
State Senate Democratic Leader Chris Smith, who asked to serve but wasn’t appointed to the panel, told the News Service of Florida that he wasn’t surprised by the outcome: “When you put a task force together of people who wrote the bill and full of people who support ‘stand your ground,’ I knew that the task force wouldn’t come up with anything earth-shattering.”
It might surprise you, however, to learn that the stand-your-ground law didn’t originate in the Florida Legislature.
It came from the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action, which heavily lobbied for passage and contributed numerous “action alerts” to NRA members in Florida asking them to press state lawmakers for adoption.
The Center for American Progress Action Fund reports the NRA’s involvement in Florida’s controversial law didn’t end with lobbying:
“The NRA had already made a financial investment . . . The Florida Legislature passed the bill with the support from 22 of the 23 lawmakers who got NRA funds.”
That was back in 2005 when Jeb Bush was governor. He signed the bill with the NRA’s chief Florida lobbyist standing at his side.
It might also surprise you to learn that Florida is considered a “good” state for introducing laws being pushed by corporate interests and others who operate under the umbrella of the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, known as ALEC.
The Center for Media and Democracy, a nonprofit investigative reporting group in Washington, D.C., has been documenting ALEC’s involvement in drafting legislation state-by-state.
“Global corporations and state politicians vote behind closed doors to try to rewrite state laws that govern your rights,” according to the center’s “ALECexposed” report. “These so-called ‘model bills’ reach into almost every area of American life and often directly benefit huge corporations.”
The Florida bill, signed into law in 2006, has since been adopted by legislatures in more than two dozen other states.
Other examples of ALEC’s “model” legislation includes privatizing schools and state prisons, defunding unions and passing election law “reforms” that critics say aim at “disenfranchising” certain voting groups.
So when you learn that Florida’s review panel thought stand-your-ground was just fine the way it was, remember who wrote the draft legislation — the NRA — and then draw your own conclusions.