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'Joke' Gun Violence Threats on Social Media Will Get You Arrested

By Ceylan Pumphrey, Esq. | Last updated on

Making threats against someone on social media can get you into hot water. But, even just joking about gun violence on social media can get you arrested.

Just ask Ricky Jared Rankin of Texas. Rankin allegedly posted a photo of an AR-15 to Instagram and captioned the photo: "I'm thinking about finally going back to school." This resulted in a police investigation almost immediately and Rankin was arrested for the Instagram post.

Is Joking a Crime?

Although jokes usually don't result in criminal charges, they can lead to criminal investigations.

This is especially true given the current climate where mass shootings are occurring throughout the country. After all, it's better to be safe than sorry and look into any indications of possible school shootings. Which is why Rankin was arrested and his property searched as a result of the "joke" on Instagram. It was reported that the gun from the social media post had not been found yet, and the police are still not sure whether the post was in fact a joke or not.

Laughing All the Way to Lockup

Even though you may post something threatening on social media as a joke, the police won't know if it's a joke or a legitimate threat without investigating it. So, it's not surprising that Rankin's post led to his arrest, especially since it included a photo of an AR-15 and mentioned "going back to school." And while Rankin may not be charged with committing a crime if it's found that the social media post was really intended to be a joke, he's definitely guilty of making a joke in poor taste.

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