Gun lobbyists and their minions in state legislatures want us to believe that making it legal for people to shoot others because they feel threatened should be called “standing your ground.” A better name would be “Kill-At- Will,” a more apt description coined by Media Matters Action Network. And those of us who oppose these dangerous laws–as well as the media– should be using that phrase.
The motivation behind kill-at-will laws doesn’t come from a strict adherence to the vaunted Second Amendment’s “right to bear arms.” Even Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia—a self-proclaimed “strict Constitutionalist”—has said that “the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapons whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”
So, where do “kill at will” laws come from? The key players are—no surprise—the National Rifle Association [NRA] and the American Legislative Exchange Council [ALEC]. The NRA wrote Florida’s Kill-At-Will law and bankrolled the politicians who pushed it through the legislature, making Florida the first to be a Kill-At-Will state. The NRA has been described as a “lobbying, merchandising and marketing machine that brings in more than $200 million a year.” Since the NRA’s success in getting “Kill At Will” passed in Florida, half of the rest of US states have adopted similar laws—a trend that has been abetted by ALEC, the shadowy organization that’s been working to rewrite state laws on behalf of its corporate and special-interest sponsors like the NRA.
In states with Kill-At-Will laws, the average number of “justifiable homicides” cases per year increased by more than 50% — and tripled in Florida, where the Kill-At-Will law has been invoked as a legal defense in gang fights, neighbor disputes, and road rage.
It’s going to continue to be hard to stop the weapons juggernaut in America. The gun-rights issue has proven itself to be a political winner for the right and an effective political battleground for fundraising—even though the bottom line is better for politicians and the weapons industry than it is for American families. Media Matters Action Network [whose talking points are reflected in this post] puts it this way: “Kill-At-Will laws put everyone in the line of fire and invite people to shoot to kill. When laws let paranoid strangers gun you or your loved one down, no one is safe.”
Gloria Shur Bilchik is a freelance writer and community volunteer in St. Louis, Missouri. She is the editor of Occasional Planet. She views the preservation of progressive values as vital to making the US a humane, livable place for her children and grandchildren.