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Student charged over gun photo gets support

LANSING (AP) — 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 his 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.

The night 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 of Oakland Township in suburban Detroit is sponsoring new 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. “It’s a travesty that the county prosecutor charged him with any crime, for something that is clearly and undeniably protected speech under the First Amendment.”

Reilly was joined by Gerhard’s father, Mark — a constituent — and GOP Rep. Beau LaFave of Iron Mountain at a Tuesday afternoon news conference near the Capitol.

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