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Local anti-government groups on the rise in Arizona

PHOENIX -- The Southern Poverty Law Center said Arizona is now home to 18 local anti-government groups, but Bill Straus with the Anti-Defamation League said he believes that's a conservative estimate.

"Trying to put a count on them is like trying to count rabbits. The level of anti-government sentiment is spiking again."

Straus said anger over the economy, possible gun control and a deep dislike of the president make some members of these groups very dangerous.

"Among these groups there's a specific genre of sovereign citizens that don't believe any of our laws are legal," he said.

The militia movement in Arizona gained steam in the 1990s until the Oklahoma City bombing, carried out by Timothy McVeigh who was living in Kingman prior to the worst act of domestic terrorism in American history: 168 people died including 19 children.

"That act brought a rapid and tremendous decrease of these anti-government groups afterward," said Straus.

The SPLC said the number of anti-government groups is at an all-time high nationally. There are 1,360 of these organizations in nationwide, compared with just 149 in 2008.

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About the Author


Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Have covered some of the biggest stories in Arizona including nine of the top 10 largest wildfires in state history. The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. Covered the Yarnell Hill Tragedy in June 2013 that left 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges and Lonesome Dove.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, Texas Longhorns, The University of Montana Grizzlies.

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