“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,” News OKreported on Thursday.
Shelton wants to send people to prison who do not ask the state for permission to form a militia. If the bill becomes law, it will likely be challenged as unconstitutional. However, the bill and its passage in the Oklahoma House reveals there is support on the part of lawmakers to deny citizens their rights under the First Amendment (specifically, the right to peaceably assemble).
A news report video on the law can be viewed here.
Shelton exploited the government attack on the federal building in Oklahoma City fifteen years ago in order to rationalize the law. “In Oklahoma, we have seen the damage done by militia fanatics,” he said. “The Ku Klux Klan has a long history of violence and domestic terrorism.”
It sounds like Mr. Shelton has read too much Southern Poverty Law Center literature. The Ku Klux Klan is not only almost entirely dormant — with the exception of a few FBI-run stragglerskept around just in case the race card needs to be played — but the throwback organization has nothing to do with state militia movements.
Even the ADL admits that Timothy McVeigh was not associated with a militia group.
“Involvement in those types of organizations should be treated no differently than participation in an urban gang,” said Shelton, a Democrat.
“Shelton’s amendment was filed about a week after news reports indicated some in Oklahoma tea party groups supported a volunteer militia to help defend the state’s sovereignty against federal government infringement. Several tea party leaders later said they had been talking about reinstituting a state guard, which would help with emergencies and would be under the direction of the governor and Legislature,” News OK adds.
Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, asked Shelton if he characterized the Black Panthers as an unauthorized militia.
“Are they going around terrorizing communities, doing drive-by shootings, using ammonium nitrate to blow up buildings?” Shelton asked. “When they start doing that, they would be considered (that).”
Militia groups have never been accused or prosecuted for using ammonium nitrate to blow up buildings.
Shelton’s bill has moved to the Oklahoma Senate.