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Lawmakers rip charges against student who posted gun photo

LANSING, Mich. — State lawmakers and a gun rights group on Tuesday called for changes to Michigan’s terrorism law after a Lake Superior State University student was charged for posting a photo of a rifle on social media and saying it would make “snowflakes melt.”

Lucas Gerhard, 20, faces the charge of making a terrorist threat over an incident that occurred in August. The maximum sentence for a conviction on that charge is 20 years in prison.

Before returning to the school for his junior year, Gerhard sent a photo of his newly purchased AR-15 rifle to a group of friends on Snapchat. The text said: “Takin this bad boy up, this outta make the snowflakes melt, aye? And I mean snowflakes as in snow.”

Republican state Rep. John Reilly is sponsoring legislation to redefine the crime of making a terrorist threat or making a false report of terrorism.

“I never thought our society was so fragile that someone’s life could be ruined for telling a joke among friends,” said Reilly.

He added that Michigan’s definition contains no requirement that any particular target exist nor any “reasonable person” standard, exposing people to charges for telling what Reilly called harmless jokes.

Reilly was joined by Gerhard’s father, Mark, at a Tuesday afternoon news conference near the Capitol. Lucas Gerhard attended but did not speak per the advice of his lawyer since his case is pending.

The Chippewa County prosecutor could not be reached for comment.

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