Pennsylvania Superior Court Rules ‘Finger Gun’ Gesture is a Crime

Finger gun gesture pennsylvania illegal

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Would we kid about something like this? Not in 2019, we wouldn’t. A Pennsylvania court has found a Manor Township man guilty of disorderly conduct for making a “finger gun” gesture at his neighbor. No, really.

As WGAL reports . . .

Stephen Kirchner, 64, of Manor Township, was charged last year with summary disorderly conduct for the gesture, according to the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office. The gesture prompted the neighbor to call 911.

Click here to see surveillance video of the incident in question.

“Kirchner argued on appeal that the gesture did not cause a hazardous or physically offensive condition, that he did not intend to cause public alarm, and that there essentially was no harm done to the victim or society,” a statement from the DA’s Office said.

However, the high court found the gesture of imitating the firing and recoiling of a gun “risked an altercation” and supported the charge. The neighbor also reported feeling insecure, which is why the call to 911 was placed.

“Feeling insecure.” Kirchner was fined $100 plus court costs.

We’re now living in a world where the old finger gun is sufficient evidence of a credible threat. It’s also a world in which more of us are living under “red flag” laws. In fact, a red flag law is currently under consideration in the Keystone State.

Had a red flag law already been in place, the aggrieved neighbor could have moved to have Kirchner’s guns confiscated (assuming he owns guns). Does anyone doubt that someone who would call 911 and admit to “feeling insecure” because of an extended thumb and forefinger would do that?

And it’s not too big a leap from there to wonder about this:

woman finger gun head

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If Stephen Kirchner’s finger gun constitutes enough of a threat to find him guilty of a crime, could someone making the gesture above be found to be a danger to herself? Would that be enough to convince a judge to issue a confiscation order under a red flag law?

It seems utterly ridiculous, of course. But we seem to be living in increasingly ridiculous times.

comments

  1. avatar Mark Davis says:

    Someone please have this judge committed! He is utterly insane!

    1. avatar American Patriot says:

      Next thing you know they’ll be making Pop Tart guns illegal……Oh wait!

    2. avatar frank speak says:

      obviously the guy used the wrong finger…

    3. avatar Steven Goellner says:

      Mark you are totally correct judge is mentally unstable

  2. avatar MtnDewey says:

    ridiculous, the judges in this ruling are obviously liberals and have no business ruling in a higher court. He should appeal to the Supreme court and cite freedom of speech.

  3. avatar I Haz A Question says:

    Okay, so I guess I can’t strut down the center aisle of my office anymore while giving the ‘ol Toby Maguire “finger guns” to coworkers (a la Spiderman 3).

    1. avatar Dan W says:

      Simulated mass workplace violence!

  4. avatar WhiteDevil says:

    Appeal it to the Supreme Court of PA. But, I have to ask what the point is? What court will grant more freedom to individuals? They think we are beholden to them. This whole failed experiment needs to torn down and replaced.

    1. avatar Geoff "Hurry-up and *die*, Ruthie" PR says:

      “Appeal it to the Supreme Court of PA. But, I have to ask what the point is? What court will grant more freedom to individuals?”

      The Supreme Court, in 2008. Thanks to that freedom restored, people in New York City and San Fransisco may now have a gun in their home. (…after paying ridiculous fees and pushing bullshit paperwork, but we’re working on it!)

      So lay off on the “What court will grant more freedom to individuals?” crap, you’re starting to sound like P.g.2. and his paranoia bullshit…

      1. avatar Pg2 says:

        “Paranoia”? What are you smoking?

  5. avatar Mark N. says:

    According to the link to a discussion of the proposed law, the neighbor could not have sought an ERPO. “Under Stephens’s bill, a family member, intimate partner or law enforcement officer could present evidence to a court that someone is an immediate threat to themselves or others.” This is actually pretty typical, limiting the right to seek such orders to close family members. Police already have the power to drag someone off for a mental health evaluation that can also lead to confiscation.

    1. avatar PMinFl says:

      Prolly have his hand confiscated.

  6. avatar Realist says:

    An even bigger issue here is that precedent has now been established and courts more often than not rule in the favor of existing precedent.

  7. avatar TheUnspoken says:

    Keep those finger guns concealed in your pockets please, and be sure you have a valid concealed carry license. Open carry of finger guns is brandishing a firearm!

    Must be 21 to buy, own, or possess a finger gun. Finger guns are not allowed in schools, airports, hospitals, and all government buildings.

  8. avatar jwm says:

    We all know context is important. A finger gun is not a deadly weapon. But it implies a willingness to use a deadly weapon. Especially if a person in an argument makes the gesture towards the other party. It’s a threat. Plain and simple.

    And a 64yo man should know better. Maybe he has anger issues and impulse control issues. Maybe he’s been the neighborhood bully. But make a gun like gesture as a threat to me and you will not like the outcome.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      jwm,

      Especially if a person in an argument makes the gesture towards the other party. It’s a threat. Plain and simple.

      ^ This!

      Any credible offensive threat against someone is a crime. How the perpetrator conveys the threat — vocally, written, smoke signals, or hand gestures — is irrelevant.

      If the 64 year-old man conveyed a credible offensive threat, then that was a crime. A misdemeanor charge and $100 fine seems appropriate to me for what occurred.

      1. avatar Jason says:

        So what your saying is that he extended the wrong finger? I can think of a finger I would have extended to the neighbor and the judge.

        1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

          Jason,

          Your hand’s configuration in-and-of-itself is irrelevant. What is relevant is how society understands your hand’s configuration.

          Let me give you another example. Suppose you and I are in a heated confrontation. And then I point my index finger toward my left ear and draw my finger across my neck to my other ear with a scowl on my face. Why is that a problem? Is it because I moved my index finger around? No. It is a problem because our society universally understands that means, “I am going to cut your head off.” That is a credible threat of offensive violence. And I think a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct and a $100 fine is totally appropriate.

        2. avatar Jason says:

          Credible threat:

          The term credible threat means a threat that is “ real and immediate, not conjectural or hypothetical.” Kegler v. United States DOJ, 436 F. Supp. 2d 1204, 1212 (D. Wyo. 2006)

          https://definitions.uslegal.com/c/credible-threat/

          I’m pretty sure that you have a different definition of what a “credible threat” is.

      2. avatar Victoria Illinois says:

        I think the neighbor may be guilty of harassing a female store clerk last week. Quick, call the “metoo” movement lawyers. Let’s see how that plays out. Making a federal case out of stupid finger gesture is a slippery slope.

        1. avatar guest says:

          That would be a valid claim of sexual harassment then. Which isn’t ok even if you think it is.

    2. avatar Dude says:

      Context always matters. What’s amazing is that they acted on a hand gesture threat, when almost every other jurisdiction in the country ignores very specific verbal threats.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        Which leads me to believe this is not the first time the 64yo has had interactions with the police. They’ve finally had enough of his shit and gave him a wake up call. My money is on him being the neighborhood bully.

    3. avatar Steven Goellner says:

      Bull crap it’s still a non hurtful action protected under 1st amendment rights sorry facts if you still believe in freedom

  9. avatar OBOB says:

    The US has evolved into pussies!

    convince me I am wrong…I got time

    1. avatar GunnyGene says:

      Exactly. And I will not argue against your pussy reference. It’s gonna hurt when this country hits the ground after falling for the last couple decades. There ain’t no air bag to break the fall.

      1. avatar Wuh? says:

        I believe the word “pussy” is offensive to some individuals. We shall now refer to them as “vaginas”.

        1. avatar Guesty McGuesterson says:

          I thought it was supposed to be “front hole”.

          https://caldronpool.com/healthline-says-using-the-medical-term-vagina-is-not-gender-inclusive-language-uses-front-hole-instead/

          If Lefties want to change things by playing word games, we can do it, too. From this day forward, my AR-15 is a “bang stick”. Then a Leftie won’t know if I’m talking about my gun or my pee-pee.

        2. avatar Gerri Daniels says:

          Wait! So if I own a cat I cannot call it a pussy cat, but instead have to refer to it as a vagina cat?

        3. avatar Dani in WA says:

          @Gerri

          “Front hole cat”.

        4. avatar Dani in WA says:

          @Gerri

          “Front hole cat”.

        5. avatar Jim says:

          Ok, you people are going to make me hurt myself laughing

  10. avatar GS650G says:

    So saying fuck you will constitute attempted rape.
    Yeah we are in for a rough ride.

    1. avatar Sprinter2x says:

      If some people don’t move from the left to the right the world is going to tip over.

    2. avatar GW says:

      Regarding GS650G’s reply. Now that is funny. Seriously though, I agree with JWM, we need to put all of this in context. Think of this as an unspoken threat. If someone is pissed off and makes a gesture that he is going to “slit my throat” it is not his hand that I fear. It is the action he intimated he wants to take. I fear the message he is conveying. Then I have to consider does he have actual intent (was he blowing off steam or an actual crazy), does he have a knife or in this case access to a gun? In this world, I am going with the guy just made a threat on my life and it is more than appropriate for LE to step in. Madonna says she dreams of blowing up the White House. She gets a knock on the door from the Secret Service. So why should this guy not get a visit from LE? Like it or not, it was a threat and his message was clear, a threat to harm you with a gun.

      So while yelling F-you is funny, and I am still laughing at your sense of humor, yelling I am going to F-You Up is a threat that needs to be taken seriously. I want to protect gun rights but this has nothing to do with that. I do allow there are other ways the whole thing could have been handled. They pretty much all involve conceal carry and someone getting shot. Maybe what happened is not so bad after all.

      1. avatar daveinwyo says:

        The neighbor could have saved everyone’s time and money by replying to the gun gesture with the throat cutting one.
        The judge could have told the offended party to reply in kind, tit for tat.
        On the other hand I have had neighbors I would gladly give this signal, and meant it.

    3. avatar WI Patriot says:

      Could always say “go fuck yourself”…

      1. avatar SKP5885 says:

        Depending on who he said it to…I might watch.

    4. avatar Dude says:

      Well, whatever you do just don’t make the finger through the circle gesture with your hands. That’ll set you back $100 plus court costs.

    5. avatar Steven Goellner says:

      That’s my point exactly

  11. avatar NORDNEG says:

    This is B S, the courts have already ruled on finger gestures ( like the bird 🖕🏿) as freedom of speech… get a GOOD mouthpiece, if you can find one & go all the way to the Supreme Court & sue for damages.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Nordneg,

      Free speech protects simple insults, whether those simple insults are vocal, written, or with hand gestures. Since flipping the bird to someone is a simple insult, it is protected speech. Vocally threatening someone is not protected speech: it is a crime. Threatening someone with hand gestures is also not protected speech: it is also a crime.

      1. avatar Steven Goellner says:

        Give me a break same mentally as a kid chewing a food into a big joke GUN no way a crime if I dont touch you and if I hurt Democrats wimpy feeling too bad

    2. avatar James Ivy says:

      Fuck you is protected, the implication for violence is a call to action which has been ruled not protected by freedom of speech. Yuuuuge difference 🙂

  12. avatar Mercury says:

    Honk honk, y’all. We’re in Clown World now.

  13. avatar Randy Jones says:

    I think the funny part was the guy flipped hi off first. This was brought up in court and he admitted to it. Flipping someone the ‘bird’ isn’t risking an altercation, but when you ‘shoot’ the bird, it is. Maybe no fowl were in season.
    What do you expect from a liberal world. Just like the kid who ate the pop tart and as he did so, it looked like a gun shape…don’t play with your food.

    1. avatar KenW says:

      Libs consider flipping the bird protected speech.
      I wonder how they would react to Archie pretending to shoot himself when Edith droned on and on.

  14. avatar enuf says:

    Would need to know a lot more about this case to be ablle to say what is real and what is internet feed trough fodder.

    No hand gesture is illegal. The intent can be, but that’s a case by case sort of thing.

    Such as little children at play and pretending is nothing.

    If an adult does it and means it as a threat then it does mean something and yes the intent to commit a violent crime can be illegal.

  15. avatar Tom T says:

    Shooter McGavin is in big trouble.

    1. avatar Sean G./The Rookie says:

      LOL, beat me to it!

  16. avatar RED FLAG THE JUDGE says:

    RED FLAG THE JUDGE!!!!!!!!!

    1. avatar guest says:

      COMMIT A MISDEMEANOR!!!1!1!

      Easy enough to recommend for others to do.

  17. avatar LifeSavor says:

    I wonder if my USCCA insurance would cover an event like this.

  18. avatar former water walker says:

    Y’all agreeing with this “ruling” are IDIOT’S. That is all☝

  19. avatar LifeSavor says:

    Do you remember the case of that several-time deported illegal alien who shot and killed a teenage girl on the pier at San Francisco? He got off even after admitting he fired the gun, didn’t he? Good thing he did not use a finger-gun. THAT would have been a conviction.

  20. avatar Darkman says:

    7th U.S. Court of Appeals rules Chicago and Cook County Illinois ban on assault weapons can stay in place. This was a unanimous ruling.

    1. avatar Steven Goellner says:

      But ruling is UNCONSTITUTIONAL SIMPLE AS THAT

  21. avatar Ralph says:

    Kirchner’s error was in showing his neighbor the wrong finger.

    1. avatar Some dude says:

      That would be sexual assault…

  22. avatar James Ivy says:

    To be honest I wouldn’t appreciate a gesture like that “aimed” in my direction, I understand it’s just a finger bang but if you direct that towards me it’s just as if you said you were going to shoot me and I will act accordingly to deal with said threat. Sorry if you don’t agree but picture some gangbanger throwing up there blood sign a pretending to blow your some off but it’s ok fingers show no intent must be trying to ask if you want to play bones!

    1. avatar Anymouse says:

      Right. It needs to be taken in context. Kids playing cops and robbers, no problem. Telling the opposing team you’re going to murder them, it’s competitive banter. Saying the same to your ex-wife following a bitter divorce isn’t as playful. An adult pointing a finger gun at you during an altercation seems to be sign language for I’m going to shoot you. Similarly, drawing your finger knife against your throat can be a threat, especially if there’s pointing involved.

    2. avatar Someone says:

      “I understand it’s just a finger bang but if you direct that towards me it’s just as if you said you were going to shoot me and I will act accordingly to deal with said threat.”

      How exactly will you act? Run away? Call 911? Push charges like the neighbor in this story? Imagine what the same judge will do if they bring you in front of him for shooting someone over aiming a finger at you.

  23. avatar John S says:

    honk honk

  24. avatar Vlad Tepes says:

    It simply proves the Second Amendment is a joke and always has been. The Courts ignore it and anything pertaining to guns, or fake guns or gestures that look like guns are fair game and the court just confirmed that. So what else is new because its nothing new with the courts. Don’t get in their way when it comes to guns. The less guns out there the more power the courts have over you. That is the way the world has always worked no matter what country you live in including the U.S. of Hey.

    Having said all that I agree with some of the other posters, the guy made a threat and no one knew if he meant to carry it out. He got what he deserved.

  25. avatar Manse Jolly says:

    So children up to what age are allowed to point their fingers and say “bang bang, your dead.”?

    Never? Have we slipped that far down? Seriously?

    Finger gestures in the shape of a gun is a threat!??

    Not much of a actual threat if you ask me….How does this fit into AOJ?

    If somebody does the finger gesture at me I’m going to use both hands and point right back making class III rapid fire sounds I learned as a kid.

    If I really feel insecure I’m going to mimic firing a Ma Deuce, then a LAW or AT4…..and If I’m still feeling more is needed I’m breaking out the Four-Deuce!!!! “Section, HE Quick!….” ..wait a min it’s just me so I’ll just simulate hanging the rounds.

    silly nonsense..approaching madness

  26. avatar Some dude says:

    Soon, giving the middle finger will be the same as sexual assault…

    1. avatar Wiregrass says:

      That would be an appropriate argument to base an appeal.

    2. avatar Someone says:

      This is different, because guns.

  27. avatar Darkman says:

    That same gesture can/will get you arrested at the airport. A Texas Tech football fan was stopped by TSA for making this gesture to another Texas Tech fan. At Hobby airport in Houston. It is a symbol of camaraderie among TT fans. According to the TSA officer. It is considered a sinister sign. Although not arrested the fan was given a security check and admonished for the action.

    1. avatar Sean G./The Rookie says:

      I remember when that happened. Seemed a huge overreaction to me. Not that I expect much different from the TSA.

  28. avatar John W Weber says:

    All these senseless gun laws being enacted under a President that is supposedly pro 2nd amendment. Chalk it up with another false promise like repealing Obama care.

  29. avatar Dan from Detroit says:

    Anybody else read the headline and immediately think of Charles Bronson doing the finger gun in Death Wish?
    And Clint Eastwood doing it in Gran Torino?
    Anybody?
    Maybe I just pay too much attention to good movies.

    1. avatar Someone says:

      Death wish ending was first thing on my mind. On the airport, no less!

  30. avatar burley says:

    well, we had a good run. The loonies are in charge now, no way back, must go through.

  31. avatar Hannibal says:

    Guys… it’s disorderly conduct. It’s not saying he threatened to shoot up a school with the gesture. He meant to disturb the guy. That’s the charge, boom.

    1. avatar Jim says:

      It’s not the charge, it’s the fact that 1 that the police even came out, 2 he was even charged , 3 that he was found guilty of anything at all.
      It’s called principal. The neighbor is a pussy, oops i mean front hole that knew he could cause problems, AFTER making his own inflammatory gesture that he was not charged with.
      To me he should have been told well you reap what you sow.
      Going on hand gestures as being a threat then he was defending himself in the same manner from a threat of rape.

  32. avatar Ernie says:

    On the other hand, if the story here was a thug-looking dude walking up to a cop and shooting him in the face with an finger gun, many people would say the cop would be justified throwing him against the wall and handcuffing him.

  33. avatar steelbones says:

    A question for you people that support this. If pointing a finger in this manner is a legitimate that of physical harm you should be able to take defensive action against said threat and eliminate the danger. How do you think the defense of (he pointed his finger at me in a threatening manner) would hold up in court if you took physical action against the perpetrator and eliminated the threat?

    1. avatar Jr says:

      There is not enough information here, but I could easily imagine a scenario where I would support the charge. A disorderly conduct charge seems reasonable for threatening someone, especially if it is recurring or unprovoked. Pretending to shoot someone can DEFINITELY be a threat in the right context. Was it in this context? I cant say.

      To your question, no you could not take defensive action since the guy is not an immediate threat to you.

      1. avatar steelbones says:

        The question was rhetorical. so you believe that it’s not enough of a threat to take defensive action but is enough of a threat that deserves punishment, that’some critical thinking there. People that support this crap are no different than the “I support the 2nd BUT” crowd or the “I don’t care about that law because I don’t have those kind of guns” crowd. People that support this crap are no different than the judges that just upheld the AWB on the if people “PERCEIVE SAFETY” it’s reasonable infringement argument. People that support this crap are the reason corrupt politicians pass non-sense laws with FALSE SENSE of SECURITY, That turn otherwise law abiding citizens that have committed no/nor are compelled to commit any crime into CRIMINALS…

  34. avatar Ronald McDonald says:

    I think there is a law that say freedom of expression! First the woman had a no contact no law breaking there? Funny I would have pointed my gun finger at the judge
    [email protected] him. Liberals you want my finger guns my real guns pry them from my cold dead hands. This country has gone to shit. Judges making law now no there suppose to interpret it not make shit up. I see a Supreme Court battle here and by then · Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be dead old scagbag Jewish woman and the court majority will change America for the better.

  35. avatar The Crimson Pirate says:

    f you are in or near PA our state legislature is holding hearings on Tuesday September 24 on red flag/’mental health laws and Wednesday September 25 on gun laws. Word is Bloomberg/Soros funded groups plan to pack the hearing rooms with the usual bused in paid shills. We are trying to counter them with as many pro gun people as possible.

    Details and planning here

    http://forum.pafoa.org/showthread.php?t=350906&p=4043007#post4043007

  36. avatar Matt says:

    Let’s hope the tour never stops in Pennsylvania or Shooter McGavin is screwed.

  37. avatar Bill says:

    After sharing this on a group, it was pointed out there was a restraining order in the equation. I usually do a little bit of research prior to posting something. It was late when I saw this, so I failed to do that.

    Distortion of the facts, for any agenda, is unacceptable! If your truthful arguments can’t stand up to scrutiny, then perhaps you need a better argument. I’m disgusted that this fact wasn’t mentioned in the slightest. We need to be better than those who use deception on the gun-control side.

    I think it’s only proper that you put out a correction, acknowledging your willful (you can dress it up however you want) omission. Anything less than this makes you complicit in the intentional misleading of your readers who trust you for the truth. After all, you are theTRUTHaboutguns.com.

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