Durbin stands his ground

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by Senator Dick Durbin,

from Chicago Tribune,

Last week, an editorial in this paper criticized letters I sent to financial supporters of the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC, as it’s known, is a secretive organization that convenes meetings of state legislators and corporate representatives and then promotes model legislation for legislators to use around the country.

First a little history. In 2005, Florida passed a “stand your ground” law which greatly expanded the permissible use of deadly force. At the request of the National Rifle Association, ALEC then adopted model legislation based on Florida’s law and began shopping it to legislators around the country.

With nearly half of all Americans living in states with a “stand your ground” law on the books, it’s long past time to have a national debate on the impact of these laws. I plan to hold a hearing on these laws in my Judiciary subcommittee next month.

In preparation for this hearing, I sought to determine if ALEC, in promoting its model law, was speaking on behalf of all of its corporate and organizational members or if its model was instead supported only by a small faction. Knowing that ALEC does not disclose such information, I sent a letter to more than 300 companies and organizations that have been cited in public documents as ALEC members or sponsors and asked if they supported the model law that ALEC promoted and helped pass. More than 20 of them have already replied and not one has said that they support this legislation.

The Tribune editorial page and others attacked me for trying to hinder free speech and use my position to intimidate those with political views I disagree with. The Tribune and others are wrong.

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