No, Paranoid Progressives, the Koch Brothers Had Nothing to Do With Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” Law

by Hans Bader on April 20, 2012 · 4 comments

in Legal, Personal Liberty, Politics as Usual, Sanctimony, Zeitgeist

In primitive societies, people blame their misfortunes on witchcraft and other imaginary phenomena. The American Left blames the Koch brothers for everything, with equally little basis in reality. (One of my uncles, who once volunteered for Obama, told me that to him, the Koch brothers are like “the devil.”) The Kochs are routinely blamed by progressives for pushing all sorts of legislation that the Kochs have absolutely no interest in, and that would not financially benefit them or Koch Industries one bit. To be responsible for all the activity attributed to them by leftists, the Kochs would have to have supernatural energy and powers, much like the witches of primitive mythology.

A recent example of legislation falsely attributed to the Koch brothers is Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, which the Koch brothers had nothing to do with at all. The Stand Your Ground laws that exist in two dozen states were not invented by or advocated by the Koch brothers, nor did these laws radically change when people are allowed to use firearms in self-defense, as I explained earlier. (As the San Francisco Chronicle’s Bob Egelko and others have noted, Stand Your Ground laws took the definition of self-defense that had long been used in court rulings in states like California for up to 150 years, and formally codified them into state law, slightly broadening the definition of self-defense in those states that previously imposed more of a duty to retreat before using force in self-defense.)

Karen Finney, guest hosting for MSNBC’s Martin Bashir, blamed Charles and David Koch for the Trayvon Martin shooting, which she sought to link to Florida’s Stand Your Ground law (despite the fact that the Stand Your Ground law did not change Florida self-defense law very much, and the fact that homicide and crime went down in Florida after the state’s Stand Your Ground law was enacted):

Who was the Typhoid Mary for this horrible outbreak? It’s the usual suspects the Koch brothers…the same people who stymied gun regulation at every point who funded and ghost write these laws.

Finney, a Democratic operative, had absolutely no basis for this claim about the Koch brothers, and simply made it up, as a Minnesota lawyer pointed out. In response to demands for a correction, MSNBC has not cited any evidence for this baseless claim, because there just isn’t any.  It’s completely baseless. In fact, the only lobbying on firearms issues the Koch brothers ever engaged in “in Florida was in opposition to the National Rifle Association’s support for a bill that mandated employers must allow employees to bring firearms onto company property.”

But the claim was picked up by liberal talk radio hosts all across America. Talk radio host Thom Hartmann blamed the Koch brothers and Wal-Mart for the Trayvon Martin shooting. Similarly, Obama’s former green-jobs czar Van Jones claimed “you can draw a direct line” from the Trayvon Martin shooting “back to the Koch Bros.”

Now, the Web is full of outraged, empty-headed left-liberal Facebook posts blaming the Koch brothers for the shooting, including one that bizarrely and falsely claims that the Koch brothers are paying the attorney fees of the shooter, George Zimmerman, because “they feel he had a legal right to bear arms and shoot Trayvon.” The Kochs have no connection of any kind to Zimmerman.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has also been blamed for the shooting by people like the AFL-CIO’s Executive Vice President (who accused ALEC of pushing legislation that is “killing our children“), even though ALEC had nothing to do with the passage of the Florida law, which probably will not even affect Zimmerman’s odds of being acquitted. (ALEC used Florida’s law as a model for other states only after it had already become law in Florida, and did not promote its passage in Florida at all.) Many corporations have cut off funding to ALEC under pressure from Van Jones and his “Color of Change” group, after Jones blamed ALEC for the shooting. (Ironically, Jones himself is controversial, and was forced to resign his position as an adviser to the president after his past racially-charged remarks advocating communism and denouncing America became widespread public knowledge.)

Media coverage of the Trayvon Martin shooting has been filled with factual errors that have inflamed racial tensions and created a distorted understanding of both the shooting (making it appear more racially motivated than it was) and Florida law, as the Washington Post’s Erik Wemple and others have noted. NBC in particular made false, misleading, and racially inflammatory claims about the shooter, George Zimmerman, and the town in which the shooting occurred, as I discussed earlier at this link.

Randor April 20, 2012 at 11:54 pm

How blind and biased the right-wing rad-cons. The Koch brothers are among the major financial supporters of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). And ALEC drafted the model legislation for Stand Your Ground laws in Florida and a few dozen other states. Right-wingers, wake up and smell the roses. Life is passing you by while you are still dreaming of white supremacy.

Marc Scribner April 23, 2012 at 10:43 am

Randor,

If you’re going to make paranoid accusations (known in our circles as “left-wing para-accs”) on the Internet, at least try to get your timeline straight. Here’s a chronological list of events to help you out:

(1) Florida signs into law its stand-your-ground bill in early 2005.
(2) ALEC adopts much of the language in September 2005 as model legislation after Florida enacted its legislation.

Note that event (1) comes before event (2). Hope that clears things up a bit.

david April 28, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Regardless, they are active ALEC

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