A Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled Tuesday, Aug. 27, that making a “gunlike hand gesture” is a crime after a Lancaster County man made the hand motion at his neighbor during an argument.
According to the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office, Stephen Kirchner, 64, of Manor Township, made the gesture toward his neighbor back in June 2018.
Surveillance video showed Kirchner walking alongside a female neighbor, he then stops to make eye contact with the male neighbor and proceeds to makes a gun gesture at him, imitating the firing and recoiling of a gun.
The motion reportedly made the neighbor and several nearby residents feel unsafe and prompted a call 911.
There was an ongoing history of confrontations between Kirchner and the female neighbor Kirchner was with, sparking the neighbor to install six security cameras on his property.
At the 2018 incident, the female neighbor had a “no contact” order against the neighbor who felt threatened, court documents indicate.
The 64-year-old was issued a citation for disorderly conduct following the incident. He said in district court his neighbor gave him “the finger with both hands”, so he decided to make the “gunlike” gesture.
The Manor man was found guilty, but argued on appeal that the hand gesture didn’t “create a hazardous or physically offensive condition.” Kirchner said he didn’t mean to cause public alarm, and there wasn’t really any harm done to the neighbor or others, according to a statement from the DA’s Office.
However, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania on Tuesday found the gesture “served no legitimate purpose, and recklessly risked provoking a dangerous altercation.”
Kirchner was ordered to pay a $100 fine and court costs.