The American Legislative Exchange Council has ghostwritten hundreds of state and federal bills that protect business from regulation, weaken labor laws, and interfere with the rights of women and minorities.Florida’s infamous Stand Your Ground law is one example. They’re bad guys in every way and well worth opposing, but one recent attack on ALEC demonstrates how inaccuracy and imprecise language can do more harm than good.
Keystone Progress just published a broadside, “ALEC’s Legislative Agenda on Guns,” that is inadvertently worded to drive people away from the progressive cause instead of toward it. Begin with the understanding that 40 percent of American households own guns, feel strongly about them, and are acutely sensitive to slights from the Left. Which isn’t to say one cannot disagree with them. Just that it’s best to do so carefully. I have yet to perceive among my fellow leftists much recognition that a derisive attitude toward guns and the people who like them is anything less than Divine Writ.
Keystone starts out by called Stand Your Ground a “Shoot First” or “Kill at Will” law, implying that the law is widely known by all three monikers. Stand Your Ground is a dreadful law for a lot of reasons, but nobody but Keystone calls it a “Kill at Will” law, and there’s a logic to it, as I discussed here. It’s okay to reject the logic, as I do, but politically unwise to state that everybody who subscribes to it is ready to “Kill at Will.”
Keystone rather predictably excoriates ALEC for opposing a ban on assault weapons. Mistake. Assault weapons are very dangerous, scary weapons, but if the FBI’s crime statistics are correct, less than three percent of homicides are committed with them. At the same time, as I wrote here, they are enormously popular among perfectly harmless shooters. So if you apply a cost-benefit analysis, you get this: an assault-weapon ban yields very little benefit, and imposes enormous political cost by alienating huge numbers of voters. One of my big problems with the so-called “gun debate” is that we get stuck arguing only about the potential benefits of this or that law, and never the costs. The costs are huge.
- ALEC’s “Resolution on Child Firearms Safety” and “Youth Firearm Safety Resolution” endorses NRA programs on gun safety, and recommends that schools adopt the NRA programs to teach children how to handle guns, using an Eagle puppet that makes the NRA seem warm and fuzzy.