The Pardu

The Pardu
Watchful eyes and ears feed the brain, thus nourishing the brain cells.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Anatomy of a Murder: The Legislative Dissection




As a multi-firearm owner and as a one who possess a concealed carry permit, I must say the murder of Trayvon Martin provides a terrible parable of how Right-wing agendas, lobbyist, and powerful right-wing organizations (corporations) cast a dangerous overshadow the United States.  I use the overshadow metaphor to illustrate, the unshakable and non-shedding dynamic of terrors that come with passage of laws like "Stand Your Ground" laws.


First an image that is as telling as the Nine-Millimeter firearm Trayvon Martin's murder wore on his waist.
Yes, another Bush etches his legacy on the United States of America, while joined by major NRA lobbyist. (2005)
If you have followed the story of the murder of Trayvon Martin, you know the following:


* his killer's name
* his killer's self-appointed role in community
* his killer's obvious biases against (As a minimum the young black male who was slain)
* his killer's complete disregard for law enforcement commands to stand-down
* his killer stalking (including following, exiting his vehicle, and approaching) the shooting victim
* and, you know only one person in the tragic killing had possession of a gun.



My focus at this writing is, how do we as a nation ignore the fact that when given license and opportunity, some people do 'bad things' with unrestricted access to use of weapons.  Ah, you say hypocritical from one who has a 'permit to carry'.  I cannot agree based on my personal abhorrence of laws such as " stand your ground".  On last night's episode of the ED Show, MSNBC, Schultz closed a segment with data reflecting 65 people have been killed since its enactment of "stand your ground' in the State of Florida.


The anatomy of the Trayvon Martin Murder started with the signing of the legislation by Jeb Bush, but the path to the murder started well before Bush's pen and his signing of the ill-advised and dangerous law.  The path to the murder is the very same path that has resulted in other killings under the umbrella of 'stand your ground'. the following chart illustrates that point. (chart from March 12, 2012 article: The NRA Wants the Law Protecting Trayvon Martin's Killer in All 50 States



Regardless of situation issues related to each killing, the increase in killings as reflected through 2010, is nothing shy of alarming.


Mother Jones has been 'all-over' the Trayvon Martin murder and associated matters since early March.  The focus of the following article focuses on how the law, plays a  key role in the murder case.

Zimmerman may have benefited from some of the broadest firearms and self-defense regulations in the nation. In 1987, then-Gov. Bob Martinez (R) signed Florida's concealed-carry provision into law, which "liberalized the restrictions that previously hindered the citizens of Florida from obtaining concealed weapons permits," according to one legal analyst. This trendsetting "shall-issue" statute triggered a wave of gun-carry laws in other states. (Critics said at the time that Florida would become "Dodge City.") Permit holders are also exempted from the mandatory state waiting period on handgun purchases. 

Even though felons and other violent offenders are barred from getting a weapons permit, a 2007 investigation by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel found that licenses had been mistakenly issued to 1,400 felons and hundreds more applicants with warrants, domestic abuse injunctions, or gun violations. (More than 410,000 Floridians have been issued concealed weapons permits.) Since then, Florida also passed a law permitting residents to keep guns in their cars at work, against employers' wishes. The state also nearly allowed guns on college campuses last year, until an influential Republican lawmaker fought the bill after his close friend's daughter was killed by an AK-47 brandished at a Florida State University fraternity party. 

Florida also makes it easy to plead self-defense in a killing. Under then-Gov. Jeb Bush, the state in 2005 passed a broad "stand your ground" law, which allows Florida residents to use deadly force against a threat without attempting to back down from the situation. (More stringent self-defense laws state that gun owners have "a duty to retreat" before resorting to killing.) In championing the law, former NRA president and longtime Florida gun lobbyist Marion Hammer said: "Through time, in this country, what I like to call bleeding-heart criminal coddlers want you to give a criminal an even break, so that when you're attacked, you're supposed to turn around and run, rather than standing your ground and protecting yourself and your family and your property." 

Again, the Sunshine State was the trendsetter: 17 states have since passed "stand your ground" laws, which critics call a "license to kill" or a "shoot first" law. The law has been unpopular with law enforcement officers in Florida, since it makes it much more difficult to charge shooters with a crime and has regularly confounded juries in murder cases; many Orlando-area cops reportedly have given up investigating "self-defense" cases as a result, referring them to the overloaded state Attorney's Office for action. A 2010 study by the Tampa Bay Timesfound that "justifiable homicides" had tripled in the state since the law went into effect.

Mother Jones notes 17 stares with 'stand your ground laws'. The actual number is 23 states. Left Wing Nut Job dot com is running a graphic indicating as many as 23 states have enacted similar laws. 

For my experience, 'stand your ground' is the only legislation that has found such high levels of commonality among almost half of the nation's 50 states.  Of course, the Affordable Care Act, may have surpassed the 'stand your ground' laws, as an area of common focus among the states. How can such dangeorus legislation spread across so many states in less than seven (7) years?  The short answer: a GOP agenda and far too much conservative administration over the past few years.  Certainly far too much Bush family influence on our nation! A more descriptive and detailed answers looms.
Conservative desire to shape our nation in its image and huge sums of money via lobbying, contribute to the 'rabbit-like' proliferation of the 'stand your ground laws'.  The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) provides the organization, forums (annual conferences), and probably the money necessary for garnering and shaping the interest levels of politicians.  The latter (money to politicians) is particularly shameful, but a matter of political life.

If you knowledge of ALEC, two things stand-out. First, you are not a regulate reader of the the site as I have written a few pieces related to ALEC. Second, you are remiss in staying up on matters critical to America's future; your future. A few words about ALEC.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a politically conservative [1] 501(c)(3) nonprofit policy organization, consisting of both state legislators and members of the private sector, mostly representing corporations. ALEC's mission statement describes the organization's purpose as the advancement of free-market principles, limited governmentfederalism, and individual liberty. Among other activities, the group provides a venue for private individuals and corporations to assist politicians in developing what it considers model laws serving the economic and political aims of its members. ALEC also serves as a networking tool among state legislators, allowing them to research the handling and "best practices" of policy in other states. 
 ALEC currently has more than 2,000 legislative members representing all 50 states, as well as more than 85 members of congress and 14 sitting or former governors who are considered "alumni". ALEC also claims approximately 300 corporate, foundation, and other private-sector members. A list of ALEC leaders in the states includes 73 Republican lawmakers and 7 Democrats.
".... best practices" of policy in other states."



The following is a brief digression into ALEC and other Right-wing influence peddling. 


While I am not certain of Supreme Court Justice specific attendance at ALEC conferences, two major sponsors of ALEC practice their agenda 'peddling' at conferences which have drawn attendance from three SCOTUS Justices. Both Charles and David Koch have publicly expressed willingness to spend millions to impact elections. They also have been behind significant legislative battles from attempts to attack collective bargaining through the appearance of personal interest in segregation of a North Carolina school district. 

Even more alarming is the extent to which at least three conservative Supreme Court Justices may have crossed the boundary of a Code of Conduct for US Judges. The Center for Media an Democracy  (CMD) has taken proactive steps in attempting to draw attention to what appears to be violation of the following Code of Conduct for US Judges provisions.
 Specifically, Canon 2 of the Code of Conduct mandates that "A judge should not allow family, social, political, financial, or other relationships to influence judicial conduct or judgment. A judge should neither lend the prestige of the judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others nor convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge. 
CMD has identified three Justices who seem to have crossed the line of  impartiality. It should be noted all three Justices are known as Conservative Justices: Slito, Scalia and (Scalia's disciple) Thomas.
 
Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife, Ginny Justice Antonin Scalia and Maureen Justice Samuel Alito and Martha
Justice Antonin Scalia (75, an appointee of Ronald Reagan) and Justice Clarence Thomas (63, an appointee of George H.W. Bush) have attended exclusive events at private resorts orchestrated by the billionaire oil barons Charles and David Koch, which the brothers use to advance their partisan political agenda.  
End ALEC digression.


John Nichols wrote a related piece for The Nation last last week. Nichols' article depicts with intimate detail how America's conservatives, develop, shape and work to ramify legislation from their societal model.


Nichols reports...
The Florida “Stand Your Ground” law was enacted in 2005 with bipartisan support by Republican-controlled houses of the legislature. The National Rifle Association led the advocacy on behalf of the proposal, arguing that it was needed to provide immunity to gunmen who might use deadly force against unarmed individuals who they imagine to be threatening. 

The “Stand Your Ground” legislation was sponsored by Florida state Representative Dennis Baxley and state Senator Durell Peadon, both Republican ally of Jeb Bush. The governor quickly signed the measure into law—despite explicit and repeated warnings that this law would encourage shootings of innocents like Trayvon Martin. And despite explicit and repeated warnings that people of color and young people would be unreasonably and disproportionately harmed by the law. 

Baxley and Peadon worked closely with NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer to pass the Florida law, and Hammer appeared with Bush at the signing ceremony. 

But the process did not stop on Tallahassee, where the vote was taken. 

Baxley and Peadon served in the Florida House and Senate as active members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the shadowy Koch brothers–funded network that brings together right-wing legislators with corporate interests and pressure groups to craft so-called “model legislation.”

Nichols goes on to report a former US Attorney General told NBC, "stand your ground" laws are license to kill.

The nation should look directly at far-right legislative models as the founders of law that has resulted in many ' so-called' justifiable homicide'.  If we have to consider murders akin to that of young Mr. Martin, we have again allowed far-right political and authoritarianism to take our nation further down a dark-dark path.

Moreover, I find it all too tragic that we have another Bush at the core of law which has spread across the nation like a plague.  I will add a law that serves no purpose beyond the desires of the NRA, lobbyist groups
and the 1% greedy who residence in conservative politics.


I will end the Anatomy of a Murder and related dissection with a syllogism.


Syllogism: a + b + c = d


a.) Law to support killing if perceived as necessary (by anyone, even the untrained and possibly slight of mind)


b.) Perception of bias and stereotypical thinking (mindset)


c.) Interaction (opportunity to enact bias) or altercation


Equal d.)   Murder



Information Sources

Leftwingnutjob:  Florida Leads the nation in idiotic gun laws 
The Progressive: The Secret Society Known as ALEC
The Center for Media and Democracy: Supremely Unseemly Conduct by Supreme Court Justices Spurs Call for Mandatory Ethics Rules
ThinkProgress: Corporation Funding the Annual Meeting of the Powerful Right-Wing Front Group ALEC
The Nation: How ALEC Took Florida's 'License to Kill' Law National
Mother Jones: The NRA Wants the Law Protecting Trayvon Martin's Killer in All 50 States
Wikipedia:  Stand Your Ground Law



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