In the wake of the Newtown tragedy and President Obama vowing to take action to reduce gun violence, you’ve probably heard over and over that politicians don’t act on legislation to limit guns for one reason: the National Rifle Association.
New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg says it’s a “myth” that the NRA destroys political careers. But what isn’t a myth is the millions the “gun rights” organization spends to elect their favorite politicians. Though it’s comparable to many industries — as the NRA definitely reflects and projects interests of the gun industry — the NRA’s spending on elections and lobbying absolutely dwarfs the amount spent by the largest group working to fight gun violence, the Brady Campaign.
But the NRA doesn’t just put candidates in office, it also writes them the exact legislation they want their officials to pass into law. It does this through a group whose acronym has become as infamous as the NRA — ALEC, the American Legislative Council.
ALEC got its start in the early 1970s by opposing “big government” initiatives then being continued by ultra-liberal Richard Nixon. It now has thousands of representatives in all 50 states. Funding comes from corporations like Exxon-Mobil and the biggest names in right-wing conspiring, including Koch, Koch and Scaife. The organization’s hallmark activity is authoring boilerplate legislation that lets its members, predominately Republicans, pass the same laws in state after state by just filling in a few blanks.
ALEC’s method of literally replicating bills came to light recently when, after years of planning, Michigan’s Republican Party rushed through so-called “Right to Work” legislation straight from ALEC’s template without any public hearings.
The result was a law that may not be able to be implemented properly under Michigan’s Constitution.