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:
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.