A new bill in Lansing wants to tighten the definition of what can be charged as a terror threat.
This comes in the fallout of the arrest of Lucas Gerhard, the Lake Superior State University junior who posted a perceived threat on Snapchat last August.
This new bill says a terror threat has to be against a direct target, made by someone with purpose and be made in an appropriate medium.
“I’m introducing a bill because common sense has gone away,” says Rep. John Reilly, the bill’s sponsor. “Now we have to spell out the definition of a threat.”
Rep. Reilly wants to re-define a terror threat, a definition that would not include the Snapchat that has Gerhard facing 20 years in prison.
“His arrest will haunt him the rest of his life,” Reilly says. “The damage is irreparable.”
The Snap in question showed an AR-15 and said, “Takin this bad boy up, this outta make them snowflakes melt, aye? and I mean snowflakes as in snow.”
“Any normal, intelligent person understands exactly what this meant,” Reilly says. “And I think the people that escalated this incident do themselves.”
His father, retired Marines Colonel Mark Gerhard, says the perceived threat was never treated as serious until later.
“While this is playing out in real time, the school wasn’t seeing this as a general public safety concern,” Gerhard says. “It was only afterwards when they decided that they were going to pursue this along with the prosecutor.”
As for the prosecutor, Robert Stratton had this to say, “The prosecutor’s office cannot comment as to the facts or evidence against Mr. Gerhard because it seriously risks impacting his constitutional guaranteed right to a fair trial.”
But the people supporting this bill say Gerhard’s rights have already been infringed upon.
“This is a gross miscarriage of justice,” Rep. Beau LaFave of Marquette says. “This shouldn’t happen to you, Lucas. You’re a nice guy. You didn’t do anything wrong for exercising your Second Amendment right and talking about it with your First Amendment right.”
“I never thought our society was so fragile,” Reilly says. “That somebody’s life could be ruined for telling a joke among friends.”
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