Oklahoma House passes bill outlawing militias and gang recruiting

BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Modified: April 23, 2010 at 10:39 am •  Published: April 23, 2010

Recruiting membership in an unauthorized militia or the Ku Klux Klan would be a crime if legislation approved Thursday by the House of Representatives becomes law.

"This is making unauthorized militias illegal,” said Rep. Mike Shelton, the amendment’s author.

Both groups were added in an amendment to Senate Bill 2018, which would increase the penalty for aiding or soliciting gang membership from one year in prison to five years in prison. It also would create a new crime for gang-related offenses as a condition of membership, with the penalty being five years in prison.

"There has been a great deal of attention given to increasing the penalties for those involved in gang activity, and while I agree that gangs are terrorizing many communities, they are not the only such threat in our state,” said Shelton, D-Oklahoma City.

"In Oklahoma, we have seen the damage done by militia fanatics,” said Shelton, referring to the truck bombing 15 years ago of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. "The Ku Klux Klan has a long history of violence and domestic terrorism,” he said.

"Involvement in those types of organizations should be treated no differently than participation in an urban gang.