PORTLAND – The tragic shooting death of Trayvon Martin has brought to light the role that the American Legislative Exchange Council and the National Rifle Association play in writing state laws across the country. In 2005, the NRA pushed for the controversial “stand your ground” law in Florida. It then teamed up with ALEC to help pass similar legislation in 24 other states.

ALEC, a conservative lobbying group backed by the billionaire oil industry brothers Charles and David Koch, drafts “model” legislation, bills that not only push ALEC’s conservative social agenda but also directly benefit the huge corporations that support ALEC. These bills are then taken by state legislators and introduced, often word for word, into statehouses.

A number of gun bills are on ALEC’s agenda, and one of them came to Maine this session. An Act to Protect Firearm Ownership During Times of Emergency was submitted as an after-deadline bill by state Rep. Michael Shaw, D-Standish.

The bill removes the ability of law enforcement officials or the state from prohibiting or restricting the “possession, use, carrying, transfer (sale), transportation, storage or display” of guns during a declared state of emergency.

It also removes the power of the governor to suspend or limit the sale of firearms during emergencies. And it holds a law enforcement official or public employee personally liable for any violation of the law.

The bill grew out of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina when New Orleans police confiscated some privately owned guns. At the urging of the NRA, language was inserted in the Homeland Security Department appropriations bill that prohibited gun confiscation during emergencies.

The NRA then worked with ALEC to turn the federal language into state legislation. They added use, carrying, transfer (sale), transportation, storage and display to the language and pushed the bill out to the states. It has already passed in a number of states, and this year alone the bill was introduced in five more, including Maine.

The bill was referred to the Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee on a Tuesday. The next day, the committee held a public hearing on the bill, and the day after that, the panel held a work session and voted unanimously to approve the bill. Normally, a lead time of at least two weekends is given before a bill has a public hearing.

How much review did the committee really give this bill? Did committee members consider the full range of scenarios possible under a state of emergency before opening this door to chaos, vigilantism and an every-man-for-himself mentality? Were police consulted as to what they thought of losing all ability to address guns during a crisis situation and what the consequences of that might be?

Emergencies are by their very nature chaotic situations. Do we really want to limit the ability of the governor and local law enforcement to determine the best course of action to take during a state of emergency? At the very least, shouldn’t we have had a comprehensive discussion on this and fully examined possible ramifications?

The bill was rushed through committee, approved by both the House and Senate and is now law.

Did the legislators who voted on this even know what they were voting for? Did the co-sponsors of this bill — state Sens. Bill Diamond and Brian Langley and state Reps. Rich Cebra, Herbert Clark, Anne Graham, Stephen Hanley, Ryan Harmon, Gary Plummer and Ralph Sarty — know they were supporting one of ALEC’s model pieces of legislation?

And is this the only ALEC bill being slammed through the Legislature? What other destructive bills are slipping through with little or no notice?

This Legislature has already shown its willingness to approve extreme gun legislation. Despite the strong objections of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, legislation was passed that forces both private and state employers to allow employees with concealed-weapons permits to keep guns in their vehicles at work.

Fewer than 2 percent of the residents of Maine have such a permit, but rather than listen to what business owners want, the Legislature chose to appease the gun extremists.

This was the attitude again with the emergency gun bill. Only this time, the bill went through committee so quickly there wasn’t even time for anyone to object.

Because of intense pressure from progressive organizations, a number of corporations, including Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Kraft, have withdrawn their sponsorship of ALEC. And, in return, ALEC has announced that it has eliminated its Public Safety Task Force, which dealt with the controversial gun bills.

That is good news for the future. It’s too bad that in Maine, the damage has already been done.

Cathie Whittenburg of Portland is an online communications consultant for States United to Prevent Gun Violence.