Mass violence bill clears full Senate

The Oklahoma Senate has given overwhelming support to legislation targeting those who plan crimes of mass violence and those who fail to report such plans.  Senate Bill 995, by Sen. Brian Crain, carries a maximum penalty of life in prison for anyone who plans to commit a plan of mass violence at a school, place of worship, a place of employment, a sporting event, entertainment venue or any other location used for large gatherings of people.

“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 Crain, R-Tulsa.  “The shootings last year at a movie theatre 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.”

Crain, a former assistant district attorney, said the proposed legislation would specify that individuals who were 13 to 17 years old and who planned an act of mass violence would be treated as an adult under the act.  Anyone convicted of planning an act of mass violence would also have to serve a minimum of 85 percent of their sentence.

In addition, anyone who had reason to believe or knowledge that someone was planning to commit a crime of mass violence but failed to report it to law enforcement would be guilty of a misdemeanor, even if the attack didn’t occur.  If it was carried out or there was an attempt to carry it out, failing to report it would be a felony.

“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.”

SB 995, which was approved 44 to 1 on Monday, now moves to the House of Representatives.