Springfield, MA - David Hogg, survivor of the Parkland school shooting turned gun control advocate, appears to have broken federal law in his recent tweet directed to gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson.
In his two-part tweet, he told Smith & Wesson to give $5 million dollars to gun violence research or be "destroyed" by "love and economics."
This appears to violate federal law on extortion.
In his tweets, Hogg said:
Dear, Smith and Wesson should you not choose to be morally responsible by
1. By funding gun violence prevention research with 5 million dollars annually.
2. Stop manufacturing guns that are illegal under the 2004 Massachusetts assault weapons ban
We will destroy you by using the two things you fear most. Love and economics :) see you soon.
18 U.S. Code § 875(d) states, "Whoever, with intent to extort from any person, firm, association, or corporation, any money or other thing of value, transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any communication containing any threat to injure the property or reputation of the addressee or of another or the reputation of a deceased person or any threat to accuse the addressee or any other person of a crime, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both."
In order for Hogg to be successfully charged with this crime, prosecutors would need to prove that Hogg knowingly threatened to extort money out of Smith & Wesson by threatening to injure their reputation, by means of interstate communication.
This law follows the "reasonable person" standard that a reasonable person would need to interpret Hogg's tweets to be a threat to damage the company's reputation. While the threat against Smith & Wesson is not plainly expressed though "love and economics," a reasonable person could interpret this to be a threat to the company's reputation.
The other challenge for prosecutors may be proving interstate communication. Smith & Wesson is based in Springfield, MA, where Hogg was also located when he sent his tweet.
Hogg was in town to protest the gun manufacturer for making the rifle used in the Parkland shooting.
Despite Hogg's physical location, his tweets crossed state lines, which should meet the interstate element of the crime.
Do you think that there's any chance that David Hogg will be investigated for the potential offense? We'd like to hear from you. Please let us know in the comments.