Despite 1995 Bombing, Some in Oklahoma Call for Anti-Federal Militia

Antigovernment Militias

Fifteen years after the Oklahoma City bombing, Tea Party activists were talking to Oklahoma legislators about starting an armed militia to stop the federal government from trampling on states' rights. The Oklahoma Tea Party leaders told The Associated Press that they'd like the legislature to authorize the creation of a new volunteer force — and they seemed to have support from some state lawmakers, including Sen. Randy Brogdon and Rep. Charles Key.

Brogdon told the AP that the Second Amendment permits the establishment of a citizen militia. The founding fathers "were not referring to a turkey shoot or a quail hunt," he said. "They really weren't even talking about us having the ability to protect ourselves against each other. The Second Amendment deals directly with the right of an individual to keep and bear arms to protect themselves from an overreaching federal government."

Key said there was a "better than 50-50 chance" a pro-militia bill would be filed. The long-time politician has suggested that the federal government knew about the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building before it occurred. In 1999, he rejected the findings of a county grand jury he helped organize that concluded there was no evidence of a larger conspiracy.

Both Brogdon and Key later backed away from their statements to the AP. Brogdon said he was not referring to a militia that would resist the federal government, but to a force similar to the National Guard that would help during natural disasters. He claimed he never uttered the word "militia" during his AP interview, though in a follow-up article the AP said he did so five times.

And in a Tennessean guest editorial, Key said that neither he nor any other legislator he knows of plans to file militia-related legislation. He claimed that the story misquoted him because reporters were determined to link conservative politicians and Tea Party backers to militias. The AP stood by its reporting.

The discussion of an Oklahoma militia came as Americans commemorated the 15th anniversary of the bombing that killed 168 people, including 19 children. Convicted bomber Timothy McVeigh had attended at least one militia meeting and shared ideas espoused by the antigovernment "Patriot" movement. Only days before Tea Partiers spoke to the AP about a possible Oklahoma militia, nine members of a Michigan militia were indicted on conspiracy and other charges in connection with a plot to kill law enforcement officers.

In April, an Oklahoma lawmaker did introduce militia legislation — though perhaps not what the Tea Partiers attended. Rep. Mike Shelton's proposed amendments to an anti-gang bill would increase the penalty for participating in unauthorized militias or domestic terror organizations.