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Mr. JOHNSON of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, all Americans, and I being one of them, hope for justice in the Trayvon Martin case; but I stand here today because we must stop stacking the deck against all innocent Americans.
Over 10,000 Americans died a preventable death by gun violence last year--10,000. And over 2,000 of those, Mr. Speaker, were children. Many of those children were inner-city youth, and many of the victims died at the hands of inner-city perpetrators.
Trayvon Martin's case is a little different, but it is another sad addition to these statistics which are very tragic. But his case caught the attention of the American people and it illuminates problems in our society. This is indeed, ladies and gentlemen, a teachable moment. The Martin family's fight for basic justice has been delayed by Florida's ``shoot first and ask questions later'' law which, incidentally, is misnamed as the ``stand your ground law,'' and it grants criminal and civil immunity regardless of the facts when individuals take the law into their own hands. We call this ``vigilante-ism'' or ``vigilantism.''
Florida's law, like so many similar laws in 25, ladies and gentlemen, of the 50 States, was the result of collusion by some of the Nation's wealthiest corporations in conjunction with the National Rifle Association through a secretive networking organization called the American Legislative Exchange Council, also known as ALEC.
ALEC promotes model legislation written by its corporate members and disseminated to conservative State lawmakers around the country. The public whose votes elect these lawmakers to represent them are kept in the dark about the fact that their Representative is a member of this network of special interest groups and of corporate interest that wine, dine, and support these lawmakers' campaigns with campaign contributions. Any lawmaker who is a member of the group can log on to its Web site--and I would encourage you to do so, too--and if you're a member, you can find hundreds of model bills to copy and introduce in your legislature.
The public, however, is not able to access that information because you must be a member; and in order to be a member, you've got to go through some kind of a screening process so they can make sure that you are of like mind because they don't want any infiltrators in there. They want to keep the business secret.
Membership fees for legislators are very small, $50 a year, whereas the corporate members have to pay tens of thousands of dollars per year for their memberships. These memberships are mostly big-lobby interest groups, big corporate-lobby interest groups, and what they do when they get into these meetings that they hold at exclusive resort locations, luxurious amenities, wining and dining these legislators, they spoon-feed them legislation which supports their, the businesses, interests.
Now, 60 percent of the legislators in the United States of America, on a State level, secretly belong to ALEC. They are members of that network. Thousands of these ALEC bills have been introduced around the country and many of them have passed. This gives the ALEC members secret and persuasive influence over our legislators, whom we elect to represent us.
The Florida Shoot First, or, in other words, Stand Your Ground is what it's called, but it's actually the Shoot First law, was written by an NRA, National Rifle Association, lobbyist in one of those committees that the bought-and-paid-for legislators are members of.
I will have further comment on this as the days go by. But the American public needs to be educated about this, and so we will talk further about it.