OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma Senate passed a bill to crack down on mass violence Wednesday that would mandate harsh penalties for those plotting large-scale violence.
Under Senate Bill 995, anyone convicted of plotting against a location used for large gatherings would serve a minimum 10 years in prison and wouldn't be eligible for a deferred sentence. In addition, anyone 13 or older would be tried as an adult.
READ THE BILL (http://bit.ly/13G7lIy)
Sen. Brian Crain, R-Tulsa, said recent violence makes the bill a necessity.
"Fifteen or twenty years ago I think most people would look on a mass killing as an extraordinary act, but we've seen them occurring more frequently," said the former assistant district attorney. "The shootings last year at a movie theater in Colorado, the elementary school in Connecticut and the foiled plot in Bartlesville are horrendous crimes that we need to better address in our laws. That's what SB 995 does."
READ: 'Bartlesville student arrested for school shooting, bomb plot' (http://bit.ly/VG7cMo)
Crain's bill would also mean fines and possible jail time for anyone with knowledge of an impending attack, whether or not the plot were to ever come to fruition.
If no violence occurs, "any person having reason to believe that another person is endeavoring, planning, plotting or conspiring to commit a crime of mass violence" would be charged with a misdemeanor, punishable by a year in prison and a $1,000 fine.
If an act of mass violence does happen, however, that person would be forced to serve a minimum 5-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine.
"Tragedy was averted in Bartlesville because someone came forward. I believe there's a moral obligation to do that, but we want people to know there is also a legal obligation to come forward," Crain said. "There should be serious consequences if someone has knowledge about a plot like this and fails to do what they can to stop a mass killing."
The bill, which was approved 44-1 on Monday, now moves to the House of Representatives.