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‘Gun-like gesture’ deemed crime by Pennsylvania court

WTAE Pittsburgh logo WTAE Pittsburgh 8/29/2019

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A Lancaster County man who made a “gun-like hand gesture” at his neighbor committed a crime, according to a Pennsylvania Superior Court ruling.

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. 

“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.

a man standing on a sidewalk: gun-like hand gesture © Provided by Hearst Television, Inc. gun-like hand gesture The DA’s Office said there was an ongoing history of confrontations between Kirchner, the neighbor and a female acquaintance of Kirchner’s who witnessed the gesture. The woman has a “no contact” order against the neighbor.

The DA’s Office also said because of that contentious history, the neighbor had installed six video cameras and the gesture was recorded.

Kirchner was ordered to pay a $100 fine and court costs.

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