The National Rifle Association has been silent on the killing of Trayvon Martin and the laws it has helped pass that may prevent the successful prosecution of the man who shot him. Until now.
During his speech this morning at the group's annual meeting, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre finally addressed the controversy -- by attacking the media for covering the case, claiming they are "manufactur[ing] controversy for ratings."
LAPIERRE: But the media, they don't care. Everyday victims aren't celebrities. They don't draw ratings, don't draw sponsors. But sensational reporting from Florida does. In the aftermath of one of Florida's many daily tragedies, my phone has been ringing off the hook. Now, the National Rifle Association will not comment on any story without a full understanding and a thorough understanding of all the facts. But if I were to answer a call from Diane Sawyer or Chris Matthews or Brian Williams or Rachel Maddow, let me tell you right now what I'd ask them.
Where's your outrage? Where's your outrage about Willie Brewer III from Akron, Ohio? OrDerrick Linkhorn from Decatur, Georgia? Or Daryl Adams from New York City? Or what about Antonio Duff? Just this past Monday afternoon, about the same time I got here into town, he was killed and murdered. And he's not the only young man murdered in this city this past week. You reporters, you don't know their names. You don't care about those people. You manufacture controversy for ratings. You don't care about the truth, and the truth is the national news media in this country is a national disgrace, and you all know it. And so do Americans throughout the country, and it's getting worse every single day, and your dishonesty, duplicity, and moral irresponsibility is directly contributing to the collapse of American freedom in our country.
As Media Matters has documented, it was NRA board member and former president Marion Hammer who in 2005 helped write Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, known by critics as "Kill at Will," which makes it extremely difficult to prosecute killers who claim they acted in self-defense. She subsequently led the group's effort to push it through the Florida legislature and stood by then-Gov. Jeb Bush as he signed it into law.
A few months later, Hammer presented Florida's bill before a task force of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the shadowy group that pushes conservative laws in state legislatures across the country. The bill was accepted as model legislation. Together, NRA and ALEC have pushed such laws in dozens of states. That effort has not halted with Martin's death.
The links between the NRA, ALEC, and Kill at Will laws have been widely covered by the media in recent weeks, and have led to efforts to halt the passage of such laws or repeal them where they are already on the books. Several corporations have disassociated themselves from ALEC in the wake of a campaign by ColorOfChange highlighting the group's link to these laws.
Last week, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched a national campaign to overturn the state statutes, joining the NAACP, National Urban League, ColorOfChange, and National Action Network to promote a "Second Chance on Shoot First." The group will encourage "politicians who originally supported these reckless laws to examine the facts, listen to law enforcement and prosecutors, and join other elected officials in reforming or repealing these laws."