A look at the gun lobby's unhealthy grip on US democracy.
Earlier this week the BBC’s Panorama investigated recent changes in gun control (or the lack thereof), their recent sources and the tragic consequences of lax gun control – a topic that has been noticeable by its absence from the US Presidential election campaign.
The source of countless tragedies has been the Stand Your Ground legislation – and that itself has a source, but not in an elected body. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a pro-business, conservative lobbying group with a budget of $7 million.
ALEC is widely recognised as being the lobby group, along with the NRA, that pushed for, and in some cases actually wrote parts of, SYG legislation in state legislatures.
This is called a “model bill” and is pushed through by their enormous budget; campaign contributions and fundraisers act as incentive for politicians in a ruthless electoral world. These bills are then put in place and not reversed because of the volatile political climate surrounding gun control.
ALEC has more than 2,000 members and supporters including British companies GlaxoSmithKline, BP and Aston Zeneca. Walmart, Amazon and Coca Cola are former supporters who have now withdrawn their support. When asked for a comment by Panorama they said they had disbanded the team that pushed for such an ideologically vulgar law. There was, however, no apology for the lives lost.
This cartoon explains the how ALEC corrupt democracy:
As Professor Mark Hoekstra of Texas A&M University told Panorama, since SYG was first introduced in Florida in 2007:
“In terms of homicides, there is abour an 8% increase in the homicide rate caused by these laws; that breaks down to abourt 600 additional homicides per year across the 21 states that adopted these laws over the time period.”
In a Guardian survey, the paper concluded that in states where there is weak gun control there has been a twenty five percent rise in “justifiable civilian killings”. There are somewhere in the region of 300 million legally-owned firearms in the US.
The power unaccountable NGOs such as ALEC wield is immense, smothering democracy as they use it; their impact on legislation is paramount, their impact on society tragic.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.