A New Jersey man faces terror threat charges after a Facebook post saying he’d open fire with a machine gun on an upcoming March for Our Lives protest seeking stricter gun laws, authorities say.
Shane Steele, 42, of Lakewood, N.J., originally posted the threat in February, Ocean County prosecutors told The Star-Ledger.
Al Della Fave, spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, told Patch that Steele posted on Facebook shortly after a Florida school shooting, “venting against the entire idea of the rallies” favoring stronger gun laws, but then quickly deleted the post.
After receiving a screenshot of the post, the Manalapan Police Department traced it back to Steele’s home and arrested him Friday on suspicion of terroristic threats, according to the Asbury Park Press. A search of Steele’s home found no firearms, authorities said. He was released on a summons to appear in court.
If convicted of making terroristic threats, Steele could face up to five years in prison, the publication reported.
“The lesson here is to take a deep breath before posting something on social media," Della Fave told Patch.
The March for Our Lives will be held March 24 in Washington, D.C., with satellite events planned around the country. The marches are to call for an end to gun violence and to demand stricter gun laws. A Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that killed 17 inspired the march, which has been organized in part by survivors of the attack.
The event will follow a national school walkout scheduled Wednesday, in which students, teachers and staff at schools and universities across the U.S. will walk out of class at 10 a.m. local time for 17 minutes to honor shooting victims and press for stronger gun laws. That event has been organized by EMPOWER, the youth branch of the Women’s March.
Machine guns are fully automatic mounted or portable firearms. They have been strictly regulated since passage of the National Firearms Act of 1934, according to ABC News. The 1986 Firearm Owners Protection Act banned possession and transfer of new automatic firearms. Legal machine guns must be manufactured before 1986 and require extensive background checks to transfer. The laws do not apply to law enforcement agencies or the military.