On January 25, 2005, the group’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) posted an enthusiastic news item on its website: “Florida State Sen. Durell Peaden wants to make sure people have a right to use deadly force to shoot home intruders without fear of prosecution.”
Days later, they issued an action alert to their Florida members:
The Florida Senate Criminal Justice Committee will hold a hearing on SB-436 by Senator Peaden and others on Wednesday, February 9, 2005 from 2:00PM – 4:00PM.
YOU MUST SEND EMAIL NOW IF YOU WANT YOUR PERSONAL PROTECTION RIGHTS RESTORED !!!!
Please immediately send email to members of the Florida Senate Criminal Justice Committee and URGE THEM TO SUPPORT SB-436 by Sen. Peaden.
IN THE SUBJECT LINE OF YOUR EMAIL PUT:
SUPPORT SB-436 – Use of Force/Restoring the Castle Doctrine
The alert claimed that “SB-436 corrects a serious problem for citizens who chose to protect themselves in the face of attack by violent criminals. ” There has been no evidence to suggest that was what happened in the Martin case.
The NRA heavily lobbied the Florida legislature for the bill. Their chief Florida lobbyist, Marion Hammer, called the measure the group’s top priority for the year.
And, beyond the lobbying and grassroots efforts, the NRA had already made a financial investment. They had given $500 contributions — the state’s legal limit — to 23 legislators at least once in the preceding five years (22 Republicans and one Democrat). They had backed Gov. Jeb Bush (R)’s re-election in 2002. And they had given $165,000 in contributions to the Florida Republican Party since 2000 — the majority party in both the state house and senate.
The legislature passed the bill with the support of all 22 of the the 23 recipients of NRA funds who voted. Gov. Bush signed the bill with NRA lobbyist Hammer by his side. The NRA claimed victory.
And they used it as a model for a national campaign to get a similar law in every state — a campaign that continues even in the wake of the death of Trayvon Martin. The American Legislative Exchange Counsel (ALEC) formed a task force to draft model legislation based off the Florida bill. Working with the NRA, ALEC then pushed the legislation in states around the country.