The secretive corporate outfit behind ‘Stand Your Ground’

By Joanne Doroshow
April 13, 2012

For many years, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has been a particularly influential organization that has promoted the agenda of corporate America and the political right in state legislatures nationwide, but about which the public has known little. ALEC’s members, who work together to draft model bills, consist of state legislators, who pay little to join, and corporations and trade associations, who pay hefty membership fees. These fees purchase influence over ALEC’s agenda and access to lawmakers. Because ALEC’s issue-areas are quite broad – voter IDs, consumer protection, healthcare, education, the environment and guns, to name a few – not every ALEC bill connects to a particular company’s financial interests. Until now, associating with ALEC’s range of issues seems not to have been much of a problem for most companies, well worth the payoff of having their favored bills promoted. That’s why the stream of recent defections of some of ALEC’s highest-profile corporate members – McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Mars, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Intuit and Kraft – has been so extraordinary.

The principal trigger, of course, has been the taint surrounding ALEC’S “Stand Your Ground” laws, the statute at the heart of the controversy over George Zimmerman’s killing of Trayvon Martin. The business downside of associating with an organization pushing a law that seemingly turns a criminal perpetrator into a lawful executioner has apparently become too much for these companies, thanks to pressure from the civil rights and consumer community. That’s a good thing. But as we focus on Stand Your Ground laws, we shouldn’t lose sight of the breadth of ALEC’s damage around the country. In fact, some of the wider harm can be found in other parts of this very statute. This law does not just protect perpetrators. It is also a direct assault on crime victims themselves. Specifically, buried in ALEC’s Stand Your Ground laws – on the books in some form in about half the states in the U.S. – is a chilling measure that confers absolute civil immunity on perpetrators who successfully avoid arrest and prosecution under this law, stripping crime victims of their legal rights and access to the courts. This is important, because often in cases where the criminal justice system fails, families turn to the civil courts for help by bringing a civil suit against the perpetrators directly. This law blatantly tears away their constitutional rights.

In fact, preventing access to the civil courts for everyday Americans is a pervasive theme that runs through ALEC’s entire, corporate-backed agenda. ALEC has an entire division devoted just to preventing injured people from holding wrongdoers accountable in court. Its very active Civil Justice Task Force is co-chaired by Victor Schwartz, general counsel of the American Tort Reform Association, a corporate group seeking to limit the liability of its corporate members. The legislation generated by this task force has been nothing short of a gift to our nation’s most negligent companies, many of which have been successfully sued over and over for recklessly causing death and injury to their customers. In my conversation with the Florida Justice Association this week, I learned that Florida itself has over 18 such ALEC “tort reform” laws already on its books, with many more under consideration.

The problem with these laws is not only that they allow wrongdoers to escape accountability for what they do. They also discriminate on the basis of race, gender, age and income, issues not unlike those raised by the Travyon Martin case itself. For example, some ALEC bills target certain kinds of jury awards, specifically those that compensate for “non-economic” injuries like permanent disability, loss of a woman’s reproductive system, disfigurement, trauma, loss of a limb or blindness. When a bill passed Congress in 1996 that would make it more difficult to bring negligent product manufacturers to court (similar to various ALEC bills), President Bill Clinton vetoed the bill, stating that the legislation’s focus on non-economic damages was “especially unfair to senior citizens, women, children, who have few economic damages, and poor people.” In 2004, Representative John Conyers of Michigan, ranking Democrat on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, issued a press statement titled, “Tort Reform Movement Has a Massively Disproportionate Impact on Minorities,” in which he stressed the harm that “restrictions on non-economic damages” were causing minorities.

Women are also disproportionately harmed by ALEC “tort” legislation. Some ALEC bills would go even further than federal bills and completely immunize the pharmaceutical industry for manufacturing unsafe drugs and medical devices, which they’ve brought to market under lax government rules. Michigan already has such a law, and ALEC-affiliated lawmakers have proposed this legislation in other states, like North Carolina. University of Buffalo law professor Lucinda Finley, who has written extensively about jury verdicts, found that: “Reproductive or sexual harm caused by drugs and medical devices has a highly disproportionate impact on women, because far more drugs and devices have been devised to control women’s fertility or bodily functions associated with sex and childbearing than have been devised for men.” History shows that many such drugs and devices were made safer only after women and their families filed lawsuits against those responsible. Immunizing the pharmaceutical industry means that women will no longer have any recourse. The same can certainly be said for the increasingly medicine-dependent senior citizen population.

These under-the-radar liability issues may not be garnering the same kind of public attention as some other ALEC priorities. But the concerns they raise are just as poignant. And they put at risk not only the rights of Trayvon Martin’s family but also those of every person living in this country.

PHOTO: George Zimmerman makes his first appearance on second degree murder charges in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in courtroom J2 at the Seminole County Correctional Facility in Sanford, Florida, April 12, 2012. REUTERS/Gary W. Green/Pool

290 comments

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Malkin is incapable of telling the truth on most issues. She refuses to acknowledge that ALEC via Wal Mart’s leadership on the ALEC board that drafted the model stand your ground language. And Wal-Mart is the leading seller of rifles and ammo. Wal Mart thinks that it can ham hand its will around the country. I am sure the Walton kids are all supporting Rove’s pac and ALEC as well as the company itself. Mars candy just left ALEC, maybe Wal Mart will be standing alone with this corporate front. How can minority voters shop at a Wal Mart store with a straight face?

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive

What a load of rubbish.

Posted by SarcasticBtard | Report as abusive

[...] Chances are, you’ve never heard of ALEC. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a conservative lobby, made up of businesses and conservative legislators. Until this week, Wrigley/Mars Inc. was a member of this lobby, which took part in drafting the Stand Your Ground laws. For many years, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has been a particularly influential organization that has promoted the agenda of corporate America and the political right in state legislatures nationwide, but about which the public has known little. ALEC’s members, who work together to draft model bills, consist of state legislators, who pay little to join, and corporations and trade associations, who pay hefty membership fees. These fees purchase influence over ALEC’s agenda and access to lawmakers. Source: Reuters [...]

Indeed, why not stretch your lobbying millions by buying legislators wholesale? And how how can we, the people, hope argue with that much capital?

Fortunately, a groundswell of state and local reporting has finally pulled up the baseboards and turned on the lights in our state legislatures and governor’s mansions. Alec has been exposed back home as 2000 little corrupt legislators, who are now running every which way. Governors, also, are finally being asked uncomfortable questions by their local press.

Here’s a smaple of the local angle:
“Despite similarities, officials say they did not use model ALEC bills for Christie’s education legislation”
http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2012/04  /despite_similarities_officials.html

We vote them out, it’s that simple. Take this up in your own state, everybody.

Posted by chemtchr | Report as abusive

Self-defense is a long standing tenet of English Common Law. One may fight back when attacked. And it is not an attack to ask someone what they are doing.

What this pack of people wants to do is to criminalize self-defense. This will result in the obvious cases of conflict to be sure the person you shoot is totally dead, along with any witnesses, and to flee rather than to depend on the Law. Why stick around when a lynch mob will seek you out?

People in this country seem to think turning the police into a partisan force will make the world a safer place. Whatever are they thinking?

Posted by txgadfly | Report as abusive

Why are the Stand Your Ground laws necessary? As mentioned, self defense is a long standing legal right. They seem to have been implemented with the raft of new concealed carry laws and other pro-gun legislation to justify shooting people for a wide variety of reasons. There is little proportionality, the only criteria being that one ‘feels’ threatened. The question in the Zimmerman case seems to be, how could an adult armed man be threatened by an unarmed teenager with a bag of Skittles. The new law apparently says no justification is required other than the shooter’s declaration, and if he so declares, no further investigation by the police is warranted. Three recently released ex-cons shot and killed three boys in a store robbery. They could apparently argue that while the robbery was in progress, they felt threatened, and were justified in shooting.

Posted by steve778936 | Report as abusive

The gun nuts have decided that anyone who “feels threatened” can shoot anyone else for any reason.

Posted by El_Monstro | Report as abusive

This debate defies reason. How many of you that are opposed to “Stand Your Ground” have ever been confronted with a possible deadly threat? No law or situation turns out for the better every time. People do make mistakes, although we really do not know if this is the case in the Martin killing. The Black on White issue has distorted it so much. Self defense is a God given right and must be observed for every law abiding citizen.

Posted by Abetterplace | Report as abusive

According to ALEC, they are “the nation’s largest nonpartisan individual membership association of state legislators, with over 2,000 state legislators across the nation and more than 100 alumni members in Congress. ALEC’s mission is to promote free markets, limited government, and federalism throughout the states.”

However, a recent letter from ALEC to its faithful states that, “Over the last 24 hours, ALEC has been inundated with letters of support from elected officials, community leaders and concerned citizens in response to the intimidation campaign launched by a coalition of EXTREME LIBERAL ACTIVISTS committed to silencing anyone who disagrees with their agenda.”

Interesting, but for a “nonpartisan group”, ALEC sounds rather partisan and decidedly conservative in their agenda. It’s also interesting that before the Trayvon Martin shooting not many people were aware of this organization and its reach, but after some bad press and a healthy dose of sunlight, ALEC is exposed and comes out swinging with these non-sequiturs and gross inconsistencies.

Posted by anselrhodes | Report as abusive

It has always been the case that killing someone in self-defense is lawful. However, to claim self-defense when you yourself are the aggressor is having it both ways. If Mr. Zimmerman were sitting at home and this young man entered his home and attacked him, that would be one circumstance. But for Mr. Zimmerman to be out prowling around in the neighborhood, essentially looking for a fight, and then claiming self-defense after he kills someone, is a whole different story.

Posted by lhathaway | Report as abusive

This author brings new meaning to “self-serving” in defining the “stand your ground” legal concept as “…a law that seemingly turns a criminal perpetrator into a lawful executioner. Neitzsche reminds us: “The most fundamental form of human stupidity is forgetting what we were trying to do in the first place.”

These laws have been passed because an ever-increasing number of individual sociopaths (or collective ones, called gangs) today routinely invade homes, hijack cars, rob small businesses, and in general create in certain areas a “kill or be killed” oversimplification of limited choice. The “criminal perpetrator” is the one who strikes first.

We don’t yet know who that is in the Zimmerman case, but this author rushes to judge him with her own personal belief(s) as do all too many others. Obviously she is unacquainted with the American legal principle of the presumption of innocence.

In Texas just last week, three teenagers cutting classed during the school day rang the doorbell of a homeowner a few blocks away. When their doorbell was not answered, they proceeded to kick in the back door, ignoring verbal warning during their assault that this homeowner had a gun and would use it. A fourteen year old was killed as he burst in and his two accomplices remain in custody.

Who is at fault, since the 14-year old is obviously a child? Well, like victims of “child soldiers” in Rwanda, etc., dead is dead. One must protect themselves without regard to whether the perpetrator is able to understand his own actions or not.

Blame the parent(s) who do not see that their child goes to school and STAYS in school during school hours. Blame the police who cannot be everywhere at all times. Blame the school, which is unable to pursue each and every truant in a timely manner. But at the end of the day, this kid has to be buried, and good riddance. Our sociewty does NOT need him, or more like him.

Such laws do NOT victimize females, the average being typically smaller and weaker than males. As has long been observed, “Samuel Colt” made ALL equal.

If you’re going to put something in writing, it should at least make sufficient sense as to be worth reading. This wasn’t.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

Some of the comments have gotten way off track. The article was showing how corporations, in their relentless effort to avoid all liability for any harm they do, have created spill-over damage in other areas. One thing is certain from the Trevon case is that Zimmerman followed and pursued him, so in this case, Trevon was defending himself by challenging his pursuer. So the question is, is this law written so that a person initiate pursuit of another person, and then if the pursued (the initial victim) challenges ther pursuer, can the pursuer legally kill the victim? I would think the pursuer’s life would have to be in jeopardy, but it’s really hard to kill someone with a bag of Skittles.

Posted by possibilianP | Report as abusive

ALEC is probably also connected to the Mandatory Sentence laws now in place in many states that have filled our prisons to overcapacity. Who benefits? Well the commercial prison companies and they and ALEC have been active for over a decade in every state house pushing for stiffer sentencing laws.

It’s hard to say which country is becoming more and more an oligarchy: China or the USA. Seems that both are ruled by the rich, powerful few and to hell with democracy and social progress.

Posted by Acetracy | Report as abusive

[...] organization in Idaho. This is bad for citizens and CIvil Justice. Below are some excerpts from a Thompson Reuters OpEd by Joanne Doroshow that discusses the anti-civil Justice goal’s of ALEC. There is a website called Alec Exposed [...]

Ironically, it is because of people like Ms. Doroshow that stand-your-ground laws exist. Reading Ms. Doroshow’s article, she plainly states that those protected by the law are criminals, and those for whom the law acts against are victims. Yet stand-your-ground laws clearly state that one is not forced to retreat and may defend oneself or others when threatened with imminent great physical harm or death, or in the prevention of a forcible felony.

So acting in self defense against great bodily harm or death makes one a criminal in Ms. Doroshow’s opinion, and further that the person who is immenently engaged in committing great bodily harm or death to another is the victim.

Further irony on the part of Ms. Doroshow is that she is an executive director for the Center for Justice and Democracy at a law school. Apparently the school fails to teach its students what justice is, and it would also appear that ethics is not on the curriculum either. I don’t know how else someone like Ms. Doroshow could completely mischaracterize the law and put forth the apparently intentional falsehoods she has in the article above otherwise.

Posted by seeingred | Report as abusive

The main problem with Florida’s new stand-your-ground law is that it unwinds itself. The first 3 provisions of stand-your ground are fine. True self-defense. The fourth, does not fit with the rest. It creates a loophole that legalizes instigation resulting in the death of the person you instigate. Florida Statutes Title XLVI, Chapter 776 – (paraphrased here but link to full legal text below):

1) You have a right to stand your ground against an attacker if you fear that you are in ‘imminent peril of death or severe injury.’

2) Your defense against the attacker can include the use of deadly force.

3) The above does not apply if the the person you are defending against is a police officer, or is someone you provoked.

4) UNLESS the person you provoked scares you so bad you have to kill him.

It’s that #4 part (Found specifically in 776.041(2)(a)) that legalizes pretty much any killing in Florida now. Under this law, you can legally pull a gun in a theater, threaten the crowd and then legally shoot the usher if he tries to take your gun away. You have broken no law. You can sit back down and finish your movie, citing the above law. Or pull a gun on your neighbor and shoot him because his lawnmower is too loud. You had to shoot after pulling the gun because you thought he was going to take the gun from you. He was headed toward you. All legal now.

This is headed for a re-write. Anyonone fighting that re-write is itching for something beyond self-defense.

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/inde x.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0700- 0799/0776/0776.html

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive

The lady needs to talk some night walks outside the fence.

Posted by glinnes | Report as abusive

Let’s think about why people came to believe in the first place why there needs to be “Stand your ground” laws. Because somewhere, someone broke into a house, the property owner shot him, and a lawyer asked the owner on the stand if he tried to run away before violating the aggressor’s civil rights. And all the liberals in the jury agreed, because it “felt right”, and lo and behold, the person that breaks into your house has more rights than you do, even if he kills you. Ergo we had to take back the right of self defense.

Posted by mitchinky | Report as abusive

One thing we know for certain… some people will use this death as a tool… while tonight 20 or so youths will get shot in the head… and most won’t care. Pushing the laws to the left or right will not change the core issue.

Posted by Farkel4 | Report as abusive

@AlkalineState,

I don’t live in Florida, but if I did I would opposed any “rewrite” that effectively changes this law as presently written. In doing that, I would only be “itching” for a better legal understanding of the different rights intended for the protection of the civil in our society, as opposed to the uncivil (whom our statutes were NEVER intended to protect).

In this case, the victim was NOT the 13-year old in the widely distributed pictures. He was a much bigger and more threatening 17-year old black “youth” that had previous police “involvement”, one or more “in yo’ face” gold teeth, and one or more tatoos. In social media he displayed an “attitude” that quite possibly, after the initial encounter and escape, involved a conscious, if unwise, decision to go back and “get a piece of the man”.

I’ll wait to see what comes out in court instead of personally rushing to judge. If no preponderance of evidence emerges establishing that the shooting of Trayvon was unprovoked, both the “Stand your ground” law then in effect as well as the traditional American Constitutional presumption of innocence BOTH leave the charges Trayvon’s family so publicly sought UNJUSTIFIED.

THEY would be financially responsible for ALL legal bills arising out of THEIR actions under Florida law. There’s a whole lotta people likely unwilling to swallow THAT.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

One set of dots doesn’t appear to be connected here. Stand your ground does one particular thing – it indemnifies the shooter from criminal prosecution. That in turn makes civil penalties much more difficult to impose, and by extension protects commercial interests too. If the shooter is not criminally liable, then the gun store or manufacturer cannot be held accountable for their part in arming the shooter. I am not saying that these companies should be sued, I am simply pointing out the intent on the part of ALEC appears to be to preemptively protect their clients from these actions.

Posted by OnkelBob | Report as abusive

OneOfTheSheep, my argument about preserving stand-your-ground but striking 776.041(2)(a) was based on the assertion that provocation should disqualify the provoker from a claim of self-defense. That would seem to be common sense. Otherwise, you’ve just legalized gang violence. Pull a gun on anyone you want, shoot them and just tell the police you were ‘scared’ the victim was going take your gun. ALEC’s law currently allows this. It will be re-written.

Now, on to your argument: “He was a much bigger and more threatening 17-year old black “youth” that had previous police “involvement”, one or more “in yo’ face” gold teeth, and one or more tatoos… I’ll wait to see what comes out in court instead of personally rushing to judge.”

Wow. I did not bring race into it, but you sure managed to in the most…. ‘wait-to-see’ possible manner. Surely you see the absurdity of claiming to be without pre-judgment when your pre-judgment is only a paragraph north. No?

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive

@AlkalineState,

I merely pointed out facts that most media accounts did not, most specifically that the innocent-looking child in the original pictures (to which President Obama responded) is NOT the threat that Zimmerman faced. Why aren’t those later photos online NOW that Zimmerman has been charged?

Why has opinion public opinion been inappropriately manipulated by the parents and the media by substituting a four-year old picture of an innocent looking child for WHATEVER this much larger and more mature youth recently looked like? Are their attorneys being paid by the hour, or are they the contingency-fee ambulance chasing sort? All legitimate questions I have seen no answers for.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

Oneofthesheep, this article and my post were about the law. Not Zimmerman or the dead kid. But since you brought up the media attention: Had the police in that town done their job and made an arrest at the scene, the media would have never even heard about this case. The current prosecutor (who is effectively the legal arm of the police) and the Sanford City Council both agree with me on this. That is why the Sanford police chief was fired. Zimmerman has since been arrested and a trial can proceed as it should. Maybe he’s innocent. The trial will help to determine that.

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive

[...] de este evento. El joven Trayvon no estaba armado, existe una ley llamada “Stand Your Ground,” impulsada por fondos y políticas derechistas que prácticamente hace legal asesinar a alguien si te sientes amenazado, y la prensa derechista se [...]

@AkalineState,

No, this article and your post were about a grossly mislead public reaction to “the law”. The Police Chief AND the original prosecutor agreed there was no reason to waste taxpayer funds from their own professional appraisal of the facts as originally evident.

The family of the “dead person” (not kid, people 17 years old on active military duty fought everywhere in WW II) wanted a “show trial”. To incite others to their “cause” they released one photograph of him in a hoodie in which he looks to be about twelve years old.

In fact he was 17 years old. Look at these pictures:

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/loca l/breakingnews/os-trayvon-martin-picture s-20120328,0,3247003.photogallery

The released picture was #1. But look at #3! How safe would YOU feel coming up on that fellow on a dark night?

Look at #12. AT 17, Trayvon looks to be taller than his dad (man in far background). Seems he was 6′-2″ tall! Hardly the kid in #1, right?

So the media frenzy caused the original prosecutor to “step down” and the town’s Police Chief to be fired for DOING “their job” in their respective professional opinions under applicable law as then in effect. My bet would be that both wind up back in their jobs or with very satisfactory “unlawful discharge” settlements from taxpayers.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

OneOfTheSheep said: ” He was a much bigger and more threatening 17-year old black “youth””

and

“But look at #3! How safe would YOU feel coming up on that fellow on a dark night?”

So what are you actually saying here? It sounds as though you are saying it is okay to kill anyone who scares you. You can hide it behind ‘threatening’, a rhetorical trick to hide the actor in the situation – “Oh no no no. It was not me that got scared. It was him that looked threatening….” – to give an illusion of self-defence, where in reality it is wholly subjective.

It doesn’t matter how tall the victim is, or what he wears, or what colour his skin is, the bottom line is that the when the guy with the gun gets scared it all his own doing, it is all his own prejudices, and these prejudices are being used as an excuse for killing someone.

Posted by RoaringFish | Report as abusive

@RoaringFish,

Not true. I am speaking with reference to what action(s) are permissible under current Florida law as adopted and in force on the night of this altercation.

I am speaking that were I in that place at that time returning to my vehicle on foot, if someone 6′-2″ looking like picture #3 jumped me from behind “out of the blue”, I would fear for my life without even knowing if it was the person I had earlier tried to see what he was “up to”.

If he broke my nose and was slamming my head against concrete and I have a gun, I’m likely to blow that person away even if I couldn’t pick him out of a line-up ten minutes later. You aren’t thinking on an intellectual level when your adreneline has “popped”, you’re in “survival mode”.

If the facts that emerge are consistent with the above speculation, I think the interpretation of the applicable Florida statutes will support the original decisions of the local Police Chief and the original prosecutor. THAT’s what I am “actually saying here”.

Your “agenda” is clearly an entirely different one which expects people to act during an altercation with 20-20 clarity and hindsight. Have you ever heard of the expression “the fog of war”? It’s not limited to war.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

To claim that a law is bad because or if it impacts disproportionately any particular group, say blacks, is absurd. The obvious examples to make this point are the laws against armed robbery or murder. Are they bad because they disproportionately impact blacks?

Laws like the stand your ground laws are reasonable and good and clearly any group that is disproportionately impacted by them needs to improve its behavior rather than demand their removal.

Posted by CheckItOut | Report as abusive

@ROneOf TheSheep,

“You aren’t thinking on an intellectual level when your adreneline has “popped”, you’re in “survival mode”.

Speak for yourself, but yes, some people are like that. What I am saying is that a) such people should not be allowed to have guns, as they are clearly not responsible enough, and b) they should not be protected by laws that effectively make it legal to kill somebody just because their adrenaline popped.

Turning to another of your statements:

“If he broke my nose and was slamming my head against concrete and I have a gun, I’m likely to blow that person away ”

This is a very good illustration of why current US gun laws are so wrong. If that statement is true, *you* should not be allowed to have a gun. Somebody punching you is not an excuse to kill them. Getting into a fight is not an excuse for murder, and having so many people carrying guns who think it is is pretty damn dangerous.

Posted by RoaringFish | Report as abusive

@RoaringFish,

You clearly don’t understand the difference between “society”, which would apply to the Thugs and pirates of the 1800s, and “civil society”, in which statutes define rights and responsibilities of citizens by common consent.

There are “punches” that kill, therefore someone “punching you” and someone killing you is a process differentiated largely in hindsight. If your “philosophy” is religiously motivated, it is both unacceptably judgmental and presumptive as you would have it apply it to others.

If you would grant sociopaths on our streets unrestrained “rights” to assault citizens without fear of deadly force, you abandon “civil society” not only for yourself but for all others. When a society is exclusively made up of those willing to “turn the other cheek” to unprovoked physical assault it is and forever will be utterly dependent on others for it’s continued existence.

That gun the cop on the beat wears is not there to protect you. It is there to protect him/her. If you want protection and don’t own a doughnut shop, you’d better buy your own and learn how to use it effectively.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

I can only laugh at the left-wing framing here.

Let’s say this was instead a Neo-Nazi killed by a black man ostensibly under ‘Stand Your Ground’ rules. Hundreds of thousands of pages of criticism against SYG would never have been written.

The Modern Left – highly emotional, reactionary, unprincipled, jumps when the whip is cracked.

Posted by JensPettersen | Report as abusive

OneOfTheSheep said: “You clearly don’t understand the difference between “society”, which would apply to the Thugs and pirates of the 1800s, and “civil society”, in which statutes define rights and responsibilities of citizens by common consent.”

I do know the difference.

A civil society is one where you don’t need to be armed before you walk down the street, ready of fight to death.

An uncivil, third-world society is one where… ” If you want protection and don’t own a doughnut shop, you’d better buy your own and learn how to use it effectively.”

OneOfTheSheep said: “If you would grant sociopaths on our streets unrestrained “rights” to assault citizens without fear of deadly force, you abandon “civil society” ”

This kind of right-wing, Fox News nonsense is just mindless fear-mongering. Is that really the best you can do?

Had you done a few seconds of research and reasoning, you might have discovered that the USA is about the only advanced country that allows citizens to strut around feeling big because they have a gun in their pocket. Are you seriously suggesting that the USA, Israel, and all those third-world African states where everybody is armed are the only civil societies? Haven’t you even noticed that having a population an armed population is actually a third-world characteristic?

Nearly every truly civilised country has strict controls on guns, because in civilised society *by definition* nobody needs to be armed, or needs to use ‘deadly force’ (AKA murder) to protect themselves.

Posted by RoaringFish | Report as abusive

Just to correct a few errors and misconceptions made by others here, specifically AlkalineState’s claim that the law allows you to pull a gun in a theatre and shoot whoever tries to pacify you.

776.041 – The justification is not available to someone who is committing a forcible felony. A forcible felony under Florida law includes: “any other felony which involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any individual.”

So threatening people with a gun in a theatre would not give you cover under Stand Your Ground, because it would be a felony which involved the threat of physical force against the individuals in the theatre.

On the other hand, carrying a gun to a theatre and displaying it openly, and then someone who doesn’t like guns attacks you in such a way that you reasonably fear for your life, would let you invoke SYG.

Hence this is not a loophole.

Posted by JensPettersen | Report as abusive

@RoaringFish,

With the possible exception of some gated communities, America isn’t a “truly civilized country”. THAT simple reality is why it remains necessary for citizens to occasionally use deadly force to protect themselves from the uncivil.

You can’t pick which day or night you will need a gun. As the Boy Scouts advise, “Be prepared”. If you don’t like that, leave (or mend YOUR manners). My guns have a purpose, and I keep them oiled, ready, loaded and handy.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

OneOftheSheep writes: “You can’t pick which day or night you will need a gun. ”

But you can listen to police dispatch when they tell you to get a life and quit following someone who has not broken the law. “But he looks suspicious. I’m going to get to the bottom of this.”

Okay, volunteer scooby doo. Get to the bottom of that urgent situation… of a person being within 100 feet of you. Hard to feel sorry for someone as stupid as Zimmerman. He might be a perfectly nice guy. And I doubt he’s a racist. But what an idiot. His own neighborhood watch organization disowned him that night. The homeowners associaion he was supposedly ‘serving’ says they barely even knew the guy and they do not support his hostile action. They have disowned him too, and told him to never come back. The only people still supporting zimmerman at this point are the same old AM radio talk show hosts and their predictable listeners. No offense.

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive

To JensPetterson: Actually, the cover for provokers is still a loop hole. Simple example: You shoot a bouncer who is ejecting you from a bar.

You were not committing a forcible felony when you got ejected. You were just an obnoxious drunk who got kicked out of a bar. You were bugging everybody in the place, you threw up in the corner, and the 300 pound bald guy kicks your ass out. Grabs you and throws you in the alley. But now the law is on your side. So you get ‘scared’ and shoot him (there is no sobriety requirement for reasonable fear under the current law). You shoot the bouncer because he’s huge, he’s mean, and in your state of mind, you thought he was going to break your bones (‘imminent great bodily harm,’ your trial lawyer later advises you). Killing the bouncer (or mall security, or concert security, or any private security) is now legal under Florida Statute Title XVI, 776.041(2)(a) since those people are not law enforcement officers. They’re just people who scare you. No?

Like I said, ALEC’s law in Florida is headed for a re-write. All they need to do is strike the above loop hole. The rest is a pretty sensible law.

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive

@AlkalineState,

Let me be clear that I, too, don’t think Zimmerman is the brightest light in the harbor, nor do I “support him”. I can imagine myself in some of the circumstances he put himself in as these have been described.

While I fully agree that the sequence of events is tragic as it apparently unfolded, we have to accept there was a death that, strictly speaking was unnecessary. Yes, Zimmerman was initiating a sequence of events he should not have when he got out of his car. Was that a crime? I’ll leave that to judge and jury.

When he lost sight of Trayvon, gave up the search, and headed back to his car, he ceased to be an aggressor. If Trayvon then approached Zimmerman quickly without warning and proceeded to knock him to the ground, breaking his nose and then commenced to try to beat his brains out on the concrete, Trayvon under no circumstances would be a victim.

I’m confident that it will be established as to (1) whether Zimmerman broke any law and, if he did, what penalty will be assessed. (2) whether Zimmerman was the victim of an assault, (3) if so, whether his use of deadly force was in self defense or not, and (4) if not, what penalty will be assessed under laws then in effect.

I will wait and watch with interest to see what happens to Zimmerman and to the law. My fear is that Zimmerman may eventually die at the hands of some self-serving vigilante that will never be publicly identified. Who then will cry for “justice”? All of America, I would hope.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

Stupidity reigns America…killing each other.
STUPID AMERICANS.

Posted by GMavros | Report as abusive

Stupidity reigns in America…killing each other.
STUPID AMERICANS.

Posted by GMavros | Report as abusive

Oneofthesheep writes: ” will wait and watch with interest to see what happens to Zimmerman and to the law. My fear is that Zimmerman may eventually die at the hands of some self-serving vigilante that will never be publicly identified.”

Well, he’s toast either way. His life will either be spent in deep hiding, or in prison. Either way, the delete button has already been hit for Zimmerman. This trial is not so much for him, it is for the law itself. Personally, I would like to see him acquitted and turned loose to the wolves so that we can get on with the re-write of the law. Because you can be sure that who ever that vigilante is will cite the same law that Zimmerman is now citing. “I was scared so I shot him.”

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive

@ jenspetterson

You said: “The Modern Left – highly emotional, reactionary, unprincipled, jumps when the whip is cracked.”

In reality, you have actually described the Modern Right. In all my 60+ years I’ve not seen a group more controlled and in mindless lockstep with its masters than the Modern Right. Right Wingers, especially Tea Partiers, bring to mind the jack-booted brownshirts goose-stepping in unison to the maniacal exhortations of their so-called leaders. And all the while it is the puppet masters, such as ALEC, secretively pulling the strings in the background led by their chief propagandist, Karl Rove. Mussolini and Franco would be delighted.

Posted by explorer08 | Report as abusive

@OneOfTheSheep – After reading your comments, I have a suggestion for you: move. If you are so scared to walk down the street that you need a gun to feel safe, and so scared that you’ll shoot anyone who looks threatening, then you obviously need to move to another place.

I am SO GLAD I do not live in a such a place. Or maybe it’s that I’m just not scared of people that don’t look like me :)

Posted by bobSmith | Report as abusive

Bashing ALEC is now the rage, and good political fun. They also play the game, so by all means, pile on. But Secretive is pejorative and inaccurate. They’ve been around for a long time, and make their methods, means, and motives very public.

Posted by ARJTurgot2 | Report as abusive

I am so tired of the bag of skittles comments. The truth is a gun or a knife fits easily into a pocket and it is easy for people to say Travon was unarmed after he was dead and searched thorougly.

I live in Ohio where we have a duty to retreat unless it is your own home. That truly seems like a better standard. Pursuing trouble with a gun is problematic. That being said we still don’t know what happened in those final seconds and that is what counts and that is what determines if there was cause to shoot.

Bag of skittles means nothing. You can’t assume people have no weapon because the weapon is not in hand. We also don’t know if Trayvon tried to grab the gun in which case you have to shoot or be shot. Fianlly it is better to bu judged by 12 than carried by 6.

What we do know here is that regardless of the what the law allows it is not smart to go looking for trouble with a gun. However, it may be leagal in this case.

Posted by dantoledo1 | Report as abusive

@bobSmith,

Who are you to tell me to move? I was born here and this is my country. The American Constitution defines MY rights, not YOU.

I have NO intention to give up my right to a peaceful life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness so an ever increasing number of undisciplined sociopaths that feel entitled can snatch purses, rob, burgle, intimidate and kill at will to support unwise and unsustainable life style choices. I’ve also noticed that a lot of the “look like me”.

If you don’t live in Europe, I suggest YOU move there.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

ARJTurgot2 writes: “Bashing ALEC is now the rage, and good political fun. They also play the game, so by all means, pile on. But Secretive is pejorative and inaccurate. They’ve been around for a long time, and make their methods, means, and motives very public.”

The secrecy relates more to the member companies than to ALEC itself. This is not unique to ALEC, but no one is proud of having ALEC lobby for them. It’s kind of a dirty stigma. ‘Secretive’ is a fair adjective. I’ve seen stickers for the Nature Conservancy on the windows at Whole Foods. Or the World Wildlife Federation at Disney World. I don’t see ALEC stickers on the windows at McDonald’s. “ALEC Member since 2008.”

Not gonna happen.

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive

[...] The Walton Family Foundation is also a proud member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), having given $50,000 to be a chairman-level sponsor of the group’s 2011 annual meeting. Founded in 1973, ALEC brings together conservative state legislators and powerful corporate interests to craft model legislation to promote their interests. In fact, the corporate scholarship bill is very similar to legislation written by the organization. ALEC has been in the headlines recently, as a number of corporate members have left in response to i…. [...]

[...] In the last 7 years, 23 states have adopted “Stand Your Ground” legislation at the urging of the right wing American Legislative Exchange Council. [...]

how much more guns & ammo will be sold for profiteering is what’s in place here, The money barons our connected!!

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