Friday, May 18, 2012

ALEC’s Legislative Agenda on Guns

ALEC’s Legislative Agenda on Guns
On American Legislative Exchange Council task forces, corporate lobbyists and special interests vote as equals with elected representatives on templates to change our laws, behind closed doors with no press or public allowed to see the votes or deliberations. Members of ALEC’s Public Safety and Elections Task Force were in charge of writing, adopting, or voting on all bills involving guns. Corporate members of the task force have included the National Rifle Association (NRA), Wal-Mart, Reed Elsevier, the American Bail Coalition, Koch Industries, the Heartland Institute, and Corrections Corporation of America.

In 2012, in the wake of the controversy over Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, an NRA bill ALEC ratified as a model to push for states across the country to adopt, the Public Safety and Elections Task Force was disbanded by ALEC. In addition to the “Stand Your Ground” bill, other ALEC model legislation on guns includes proposals that oppose efforts to restrict the sale of “cop killer” bullets and assault weapons, a bill opposing waiting periods for gun sales, and a bill to force universities to allow students to carry guns on campus.

Supporting “Stand Your Ground,” “Shoot First,” or “Kill at Will” Laws

·         The “Castle Doctrine Act” expands traditional self-defense rights to create a roving right to stand and shoot if threatened in public places and creates a legal presumption that a shooter acted lawfully, making it difficult to obtain a conviction for killing an unarmed person. Florida's controversial law was crafted by the NRA, which took the bill to a closed door ALEC meeting and urged that it become a national model, which is why the bill, also known as the “Stand Your Ground” or “Kill at Will” law, is an ALEC “model” that has been adopted in whole or in part in over two dozen states.

Opposing Restrictions on Assault Weapons and “Cop Killer” Guns and Bullets

·         ALEC’s “Resolution on Semi-Automatic Firearms” expresses opposition to proposals by local, state, and federal governments to restrict the sale of semi-automatic weapons, known as assault weapons.

·         The “Defense of Free Market and Public Safety Resolution” opposes efforts by law enforcement to use their purchasing power to buy law enforcement weapons only from gun manufacturers that improve gun safety to protect kids and whose dealers are not notorious for selling crime guns.

·         At ALEC’s Public Safety and Elections Task Force 2011 meeting in Arizona, the NRA obtained unanimous support from ALEC’s corporate and lawmaker members for a proposal to expressly bar cities from banning machine guns.

Infringing on Local Law Enforcement’s Public Safety Efforts

·         The “Consistency in Firearms Regulation Act” would prohibit local city or county governments from enacting firearm regulations designed to protect public safety and suing gun manufacturers.

·         The “Concealed Carry True Reciprocity Act allows two states to recognize each other’s concealed carry permits and the “Concealed Carry Outright Recognition Act” requires a state to recognize a concealed carry permit or license from another state without requiring reciprocal action by that state. Traditionally, law enforcement groups have opposed legislation to allow permits or otherwise authorize the concealment of firearms and have urged governors to veto such statutes as well. 

o   In 2012, legislators in Kansas, Maine, and Wyoming have introduced bills which would make their states recognize concealed carry permits from every other state and which share language with ALEC’s model Concealed Carry Outright Recognition Act.

·         ALEC’s “Emergency Powers Firearm Owner Protection Act” amends emergency powers laws to prohibit the seizure or confiscation of firearms during a declared state of emergency. Under this act, a police officer who does so would be held criminally and civilly liable. The Center for Media and Democracy reports this bill was introduced in 2006, just a few months after stories arose that some guns were seized by Hurricane Katrina emergency responders in order to restore public order.

·         ALEC’s “Resolution on Firearms Purchase Waiting Periods” opposes any federal, state, or local government body imposing waiting periods during a sale of a gun.

·         The “Campus Personal Protection Act” would force universities to allow students to possess guns on campus. In 2011 alone, 23 states introduced some form of legislation that would have forced colleges to allow students and/or faculty to carry guns on campus.  

Pushing Firearm Programs for Children

·         ALEC’s “Resolution on Child Firearms Safety” and “Youth Firearm Safety Resolution” endorses NRA programs on gun safety, and recommends that schools adopt the NRA programs to teach children how to handle guns, using an Eagle puppet that makes the NRA seem warm and fuzzy.

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