COLUMBUS, Ohio — They call themselves sovereign citizens, U.S. residents who declare themselves above state and federal laws. Many don't register children's births, carry driver's licenses or recognize the court system.
Some peddle schemes that use fictional legal loopholes to eliminate debt and avoid foreclosures.
A few such believers are violent: Two police officers in Arkansas died in a shootout in May after stopping an Ohio sovereign citizen and his son.
As many as 300,000 people identify as sovereign citizens, the Southern Poverty Law Center found in a study to be published Thursday that was obtained by The Associated Press. Hate group monitors say their numbers have increased thanks to the recession, the foreclosure crisis, the growth of the Internet and the election of Barack Obama in 2008.