Alaska man's weapons sentence included Holocaust education

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska man was required to learn about the Holocaust and read books about overcoming extremist beliefs as part of a federal sentence for illegally owning a machine gun and silencers.

Michael Graves of Anchorage read assigned books and took classes during his incarceration that were aimed at moving him away from extremist viewpoints, The Anchorage Daily News reported Thursday.

Graves, now 21, was sentenced Wednesday to 18 months in prison, which he has already served since his arrest, and three years of supervised release.

Prosecutors expressed concerns Graves could have committed a mass shooting because of social media posts with violent rhetoric.

Federal investigators received a tip in April 2019 about the tweets, which included calls for violence against Muslim and Jewish people.

That same month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection in California flagged a package addressed to Graves containing a full-auto selector switch designed to convert a semi-automatic pistol into a machine gun, prosecutors said.

Investigators later found three unregistered firearm silencers Graves said he made, prosecutors said.

While he was in prison Graves wrote essays about what he learned from anti-extremist books and his Holocaust education.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Walker said authorities have tried to be creative in finding ways to stop mass shooters.

“One of the similarities is it all starts with a grievance, and that grievance is particular to the person," Walker said. "From what we’ve seen is that people latch on to information that enables them to transition that grievance to action.”

Graves apologized during a hearing Wednesday for his online comments, noting he was part of a network of people expressing similar views.

“I see how horrid a lot of these are and I’m sorry for what I said. I do not believe in prejudice or violence of any kind,” Graves said.

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