Local experts explain difference between free speech, terroristic threats

Local experts explain difference between free speech, terroristic threats
Smith County Sheriff Lary Smith. (Source KLTV News Staff)
Charles Gregory, Political Science Professor, SFA. (Source: KLTV News Staff)
Charles Gregory, Political Science Professor, SFA. (Source: KLTV News Staff)

While the First Amendment protects freedom of speech, it's important to know where the US Supreme Court drew the line.

Whether it's online, or through speaking, if a student or anyone threatens to bring harm upon a group or individual, protection provided by the constitution goes out the window.

"If you make a threat to that extent where you say you're going to bring a weapon to school, or you're going to shoot students or teachers, that's classified as a terroristic threat, says Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith.

Charles Gregory, an Assistant Political Science Professor at Stephen F. Austin University, says schools should do more to make sure students understand the limitations of the First Amendment.

"I would be hopeful that at least there would be a beginning conversation at this level, says Gregory. "Where students could understand the difference between what is appropriate forms of speech versus what is scary or intolerable forms of speech."

A terroristic threat is a third-degree felony.

Anyone found guilty of making a terroristic threat can be sentenced to prison for up to ten years.

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