Teens like to make jokes. They like to get a reaction out of others. Sometimes, this leads to them making “edgy” jokes that may be rather appalling to some adults. But are these jokes actually illegal in some cases? Can they lead to an arrest?
They absolutely can. For instance, a 15-year-old student in Florida recently commented online about using an M-15 rifle to shoot other students at his school. It is unclear if he was talking about the military’s M-16 rifle, simply getting the name wrong, or if he was referring to the actual M-15 made by Armalite. In either case, he claimed that his father owned the gun, and he was going to take it to school.
He never did it, but the FBI got a tip about the comment. They contacted the local police departments and traced the comment back to the boy’s house. They then arrived and arrested him, which is when he claimed the whole thing was little more than a joke. His mother also said that he couldn’t get to the gun they owned and that it was an “older gun” at that.
When asked about the arrest, the police stressed that they took these things seriously after all of the school shootings in the United States, with one of the most notable happening in Florida. “Joke or not, these types of comments are felonies under the law,” they noted in a strong statement condemning this type of behavior.
It is very important not only for teens to understand the serious ramifications they may face for a joke, but also to know what legal options they have if they do get arrested.