The Norman Transcript

Local news

March 21, 2006

Balkman's terrorism bill would raise criminal stakes

CNHI News Service

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Terrorism must be defeated in Baghdad, Belfast and Bali -- and from Bartlesville to Boise City.

So reasons Rep. Thad Balkman, R-Norman, whose House Bill 2115 moves to the Oklahoma Senate after passing in the House of Representatives. The bill revises a state law by highlighting terrorism as crime against citizens as well as against government.

The idea came from a New York law passed in 2004 that the Bronx district attorney is using to try a group of gang members. Balkman said gang violence was the second-leading cause of Oklahoma City murders in 2005.

"Gangs are a growing problem throughout Oklahoma and they use terror as a weapon," he said recently upon the bill's House passage. "It's time law enforcement treats gang members like the terrorist thugs they are."

Balkman pointed out this week, though, that the bill does not specifically mention gangs. It defines terrorism, in part, as "an act of violence resulting in damage to property or personal injury perpetrated to coerce a civilian population; or ... to coerce a government."

If HB 2115 becomes law, the maximum sentence for terrorism would rise from life in prison to life without parole. Current law already says anyone convicted of causing a death while committing a terrorist act automatically would be guilty of first-degree murder, and that all acts of terrorism are felonies.

Balkman said most crimes, even violent ones, wouldn't be defined as terrorist acts because "there's no intention to coerce a group of people." Gang violence could qualify, he said, because it can grip and affect an entire neighborhood.

"These people are terrorizing our population," he said. "They are domestic terrorists."

The House passed the bill 80-15, with six not voting. Rep. Bob Plunk, D-Ada, said he voted no because he didn't have enough time to fully consider the bill. It came up during a week of marathon House sessions that sometimes approached midnight.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local news
  • N7 Sooners come together to serve Native American youth

    Whitney Wofford has faced some tough competition as a part of the Oklahoma tennis team. However, on Wednesday, Wofford may have taken on her biggest and most rewarding competition yet at the Sooners For N7 event at the Oklahoma football ...

    April 10, 2014 3 Photos

  • Transportation officials find more cracks in Lexington-Purcell bridge, but repairs on track

    State transportation officials announced Tuesday that additional repairs are needed in at least 96 places on the Lexington-Purcell bridge before it can be opened....

    April 23, 2014

  • Stacy Ford named 2014 Norman schools Teacher of the Year during banquet

    Stacy Ford, Kennedy Elementary librarian, was named 2014 Norman Public Schools Teacher of the Year at the district’s annual Celebration of Excellence banquet Tuesday evening at the National Center for Employee Development....

    April 23, 2014

  • Council OKs $48.8M contract for wastewater plant upgrades

    The Norman City Council awarded a $48.8 million project for wastewater treatment plant upgrades Tuesday. The council accepted a $50.3 million low-interest loan from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund....

    April 23, 2014

  • Water carry 5 Water Walk opens discussion about difficulties in obtaining safe H2O

    With large white plastic buckets upon their heads, two gallons of water sloshed to the brim and over the side, but the students trudged on down the South Oval. The farthest feat was to the Seed Sower, and as the sun glared down, heat ...

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Blood drive planned Thursday

    Moore Norman Technology Center, 4701 12th Ave. NW in Norman, will host an Oklahoma Blood Institute public blood drive from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Thursday inside room A109 in the main building of MNTC’s Franklin Road campus.  The OBI is in ...

    April 23, 2014

  • Local student to attend arts camp

    Kate Kemmet, 15, of Norman, has been accepted and will attend Interlochen Arts Camp. Kemmet, the daughter of Rob and Lori Kemmet, will study musical theater at the Camp....

    April 23, 2014

  • Coalition seeks more jobs

    A coalition of groups that encourage employment of residents who have disabilities hopes to double the number of placed workers by next fall....

    April 23, 2014

  • Ex-judge cleared to run in McAlester

    OKLAHOMA CITY — A McAlester judicial candidate is cleared to run for office despite stepping down as a special judge in 2011 amid misconduct allegations, the State Election Board unanimously ruled Monday....

    April 23, 2014

  • Contemporary Dance Oklahoma to perform at OU

    The University of Oklahoma University Theatre and School of Dance will present Contemporary Dance Oklahoma, a mixed program of new choreography, works from the CDO repertory and guest choreographer Jessica Lang’s “A Solo in Nine Parts.” ...

    April 23, 2014