Oklahoma legislator proposes making gangs illegal 

Now here's a gem of an idea: make certain groups of people who hang out together against the law so that way, people who break the law can't hang out together. Wow.

Well, that's the plan of State Rep. Paul Wesselhoft, R-Moore, according to a press release.

Wesselhoft, a state rep who represents half of Moore's House of Representatives brain trust, proposes a law that would mandate that known members of gangs would be arrested for being members.

"The greatest threat to Oklahoma is not fires, floods, foreclosures or even F-5 tornadoes; it's organized gangs!" Wesselhoft said. "Organized gangs are involved in knifings, shootings, robberies, home invasions, car thefts, drug deals gone bad and bloody street killings and these gangs threaten our very peace," adding, "It is past time to outlaw gangs; I am going to do it."

Now that's taking the fight to the, uh, enemy. If gangs are against the law, then no more gang-related crimes. That is, except for being in a gang.

Wesselhoft insisted this is not counter-intuitive " that he means just what he says.

"This gives police an opportunity to arrest gang members on sight before they break the law," Wesselhoft said. "Then from these arrests, interrogations can obtain intelligence that will lead to solving crimes and preventing other crimes."

Now, that gives us pause to think. ""¦Arrest gang members on sight before they break the law." Hmmm. Well, it's convenient anyway.

Wesselhoft suggests that identifying members of gangs will be easy. They are the ones with the tattoos.

"Gang members also want to be known " it's a pride thing," said Wesselhoft. "Gang members can also be recognized by distinctive tattoo markings, colors of clothing and numbers on clothing and as the result of law enforcement's continuous dealings with them."

It's simple, see? Tattoo? Check. Bandanna? Check. Round 'em up and stick 'em in the hoosegow.

However, some are critical of Wesselhoft's breakthrough. Oklahoma City attorney Mack Martin told local station KSBI-TV that he couldn't imagine any possibility that Wesselhoft's proposed law would even approach being legal.

"This is similar to McCarthyism," said Martin. "How do you prove someone is in a gang? How do you prove they're not in a gang? How do you resign from a gang? They don't carry cards. "¦ I see all types of (First) Amendment problems: freedom of association, freedom of speech, freedom of the right to assemble."

Amendment, Schmendment. Wesselhoft said people in "gangs" don't have the right of free speech.

"We're not talking about the Boy Scouts here," said Wesselhoft. "We're not talking about the Rotary. We're talking about organized gangs that are out here killing people. They're not protected by our First Amendment."

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