For days, the country has been stunned by the death of African-American teenager Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed in a suburban Florida gated community for the crime of walking down the street holding a can of iced tea and a bag of Skittles.
The man who shot young Trayvon hasn’t been charged with a crime, and much of the reason appears to be a so-called “Castle Doctrine” law in Florida that allows property owners to kill–with impunity–anyone they think might be a threat, even if they’ve done absolutely nothing that constitutes a threat.
Media Matters and Talking Points Memo have uncovered materials showing that this “Castle Doctrine” law is the product of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC, see our extensive coverage of them here) and the NRA. Identical laws have been passed or proposed in many states.
Here in Oregon, we’ve seen this exact same law proposed time and time again by initiative profiteer Kevin Mannix, former State Representative. Though Mannix is no longer a state legislator (the coveted group that ALEC normally likes to wine and dine) he has been the beneficiary of ALEC funds for his initiative petition attempts. Common Cause reports that Mannix received funds from ALEC corporate sponsors as recently as 2010 for his redistricting ballot measure.
Currently, property owners have the right to defend themselves if they are being physically threatened. The ALEC/Mannix proposal would allow property owners to shoot whoever they want, without even having to show that they were in any danger. After years of attempts by initiative petition, Mannix said just this past January that he was going to begin pushing legislators to pass the Castle Doctrine law in their legislative session.
If Kevin Mannix gets his way, the next Trayvon Martin tragedy could happen right here in Oregon.