How many Trayvon Martins must die before states repeal ‘make my day’ laws?
In June 1990 Dirk Johnson in The New York Times reported, “When a teen-age burglar (in Colorado) tried to flee through the front door of a house recently, the owner of the house shot him in the back of the head, killing him.”
In most states, Johnson wrote, the homeowner would have been liable for the killing, since he was not threatened. “But no charges were filed” against the 69-year-old killer, he continued, “because the case came under an unusual Colorado statute that protects people from any criminal charge or civil suit if they use force — including deadly force — against an invader of the home. It is commonly called the ‘make my day’ law.”
Today, 29 states have adopted some form of the “make my day” or “stand your ground” laws written by the American Legislative Exchange Council and backed by the National Rifle Association. As a result, the shooting of young black men by suspicious whites has become almost commonplace.
The headline in The Daily Sentinel Tuesday was sadly familiar. Only two days after the acquittal of George Zimmerman for gunning down Trayvon Martin, another young black man lies dead of a gunshot wound.
“Man faces trial for killing teen,” read the headline over the story of an elderly man who shot a black teenager in Wisconsin. The shooter believed the boy had stolen some weapons from him, which the boy denied. The young man was shot at point-blank range, then shot again as he tried to run. His mother witnessed her son’s murder.
Wisconsin authorities were quick to claim this case is nothing like the Trayvon Martin case, but their attempt to distance this case from others like it rings hollow. The Wisconsin case continues an epidemic of killing that started well before Martin was killed, but his death has become the symbol of a war on young black men.
Only repeal of these discriminatory laws can stop the slaughter.
As Colorado was the first state to pass a “make my day” law, it should become the first to repeal the legislation. Rather than extend the law to give Colorado business owners what Rep. Claire Levy called “a license to kill,” the Colorado Legislature should repeal the law entirely.
The Center for Media and Democracy has led the investigation of the ALEC network of corporations and legislators. They have exposed this malicious organization as one of the leading forces working to undermine democratic traditions and expand corporate control of the nation.
The death of Martin brought further exposure of the ALEC agenda to the people who are victimized by its corporate-friendly policies. From voter suppression schemes to anti-labor laws promoted by state Republicans, the hand of ALEC is everywhere.
In 2005 an NRA lobbyist rammed a “stand your ground” law through the compliant Florida Legislature. Months later, he brought it before ALEC’s board where it was adopted unanimously as a model bill under the name of “Castle Doctrine Act” and regarded as a “success.”
But this “success” has come back to bite ALEC. Pressure from liberal groups resulted in at least 49 corporations severing their connection with ALEC.
The investigation also exposed to the public the nefarious dealings of the notorious Koch Brothers, who are the major financiers of ALEC, which they use to advance their own economic and ideological agendas.
Due to public pressure, the CMD reports, “In April, 2012, ALEC disbanded the task force that had promoted Stand-Your-Ground and disavowed its gun bills.”
With a majority of states already committed to Castle Doctrine laws and the surge not yet over, ALEC backing off from its campaign to arm America is a hollow victory. Not only is the movement growing, it grows more poisonous as it spreads.
If nothing changes, Republican legislators will continue to push for more opportunities to put guns into our communities — and to assure they are used for their only purpose — killing.