The American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative group known for its affiliation with the Koch brothers and other corporate interests, announced Tuesday that it will stop focusing on gun laws. ALEC's members include the National Rifle Association and Walmart, a large retailer of guns, the New York Times reported last week.
ALEC has helped pass lax gun laws, referred to as "stand your ground" laws, in at least 25 states, the New York Times reported Tuesday. When George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin in February, he cited Florida's stand your ground law as a defense and initially was not arrested.
“We are eliminating the ALEC Public Safety and Elections task force that dealt with non-economic issues," such as guns, the group announced in a press release. Instead, the organization says it will focus just on economic issues.
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The highly influential group drafts bills that are then introduced by lawmakers. It has drafted at least 1,000 bills, according to a Center for Media and Democracy investigation. One in five of its bills are enacted into law, the investigation says.
Recently, ALEC has come under fire for pushing strict voter ID laws, which liberal activists say are meant to disenfranchise poor people and minorities, the Associated Press reported.
“[ALEC has] already created a lot of damage, and this step is not going to undo that damage,” Lisa Graves, a leader at the Center for Media and Democracy, told the AP today.
Some of ALEC's major corporate members, including Coca-Cola Co. and McDonald’s Corp., have made headlines for dropping their support for ALEC in recent weeks.