"Fringe Gun Rights Advocate With Ties To White Supremacists Helped Build Up ALEC"
Our guest blogger is Brendan Fischer, a law fellow at the Center for Media and Democracy.
As the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) works to distance itself from the NRA-bill it backed as a “model” adopted in dozens of states, it may be hoping that people will not continue to dig into the damage done by its long love affair with gun groups, like the gun-industry funded NRA and fringe groups with ties to white supremacists like Gun Owners of America (GOA).
GOA’s Executive Director is Larry Pratt. In the early 1980s, Pratt and the GOA were outspoken supporters of the white rulers in South Africa during apartheid, calling a press conference in 1984 to present “evidence” that allegedly tied Bishop Desmond Tutu to an effort to violently overthrow the white minority regime in the country. In 1990, Pratt wrote a book titled “Armed People Victorious” based on his study of death squads in Guatemala and the Philippines, and advocated for similar “citizen defense patrols” in the United States. The idea reportedly caught on in 1992, when Pratt addressed a three-day meeting of neo-Nazis and Christian Adherents organized by white supremacist Pete Peters. He shared the stage with a former Ku Klux Klan leader and an Aryan Nation official.
Pratt also held leadership roles in ALEC for many years. His relationship with ALEC began in 1978, when ALEC began an effort to oppose a constitutional amendment giving the District of Columbia full voting rights in Congress. When Pratt was elected to the Virginia State Legislature in 1981, he took a leadership position in ALEC. He sat on ALEC’s board even after he left the legislature, serving as its treasurer into the 1990s.
Meanwhile, the organization Pratt helped lead shared his passion for relaxing guns laws. For decades, ALEC quietly helped advance key parts of the gun agenda, including not only bills that may protect vigilante shooters but that also lead to more armed people on the streets who may cite laws like Florida¹s so-called Stand Your Ground or “Kill at Will” bill. ALEC’s agenda is detailed at the Center for Media and Democracy’s ALECexposed.org. Even though GOA left ALEC years ago, it was a long-time member and leader. GOA leapt to the defense of Florida’s law, ratified by ALEC, in the wake of the shooting of unarmed high school student Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman.
GOA’s Larry Pratt hit the airwaves in defense of Zimmerman, the 28-year-old man who shot and killed Martin. Pratt branded 17-year-old Martin as “an aggressor,” based on the account of an alleged eyewitness who would only identify himself as “John,” and described Martin as having knocked down his attacker and Zimmerman acting in self-defense.
Cenk Uygur remarked on his Current TV program: “Funny how the kid with no gun is the one who, in your mind, gave up all his rights. But Zimmerman, the … stalker who called the police 49 times [in many cases] on black males…he has all the rights in the world.” Uygur also noted that no other witnesses corroborated “John’s” account.
Consider this, Pratt’s long-standing ties to white supremacists forced him to step down from his role as co-chairman of Pat Buchanan’s 1996 presidential campaign. Too radical for Pat Buchanan? That’s all we need to know.