Making a 'Gunlike Hand Gesture' Is a Crime, Pennsylvania Court Rules
Remember the case of a 7-year-old Maryland boy who ate his pop tart into the shape of a gun? He was suspended for two days because he apparently upset some of his classmates.
The kid's parents sued and the case was eventually settled. The boy was suspended for two days, but at least he wasn't charged with a crime. Unfortunately, 64-year-old Stephen Kirchner wasn't so lucky.
A Pennsylvania court ruled that Kirchner could be charged with "disorderly conduct" for the crime of pretending his hand was a gun and pointing the "gun" at his neighbor. Another neighbor saw the gesture and became frightened enough to call 911.
Kirchner and the female neighbor Kirchner had been walking with previously had issues and confrontations, sparking the neighbor to install six security cameras on his property. At the time of the incident in 2018, the female neighbor had a "no contact" order against the neighbor who felt threatened, court documents indicate.
Kirchner argues next that there was insufficient evidence that he possessed the requisite mens rea to support his conviction for disorderly conduct. Kirchner argues that because his conduct was directed at a lone individual, he lacked intent to cause “public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm,” as required by the statute. Kirchner cites Commonwealth v. Coon, 695 A.2d 794 (Pa.Super. 1997), in support.
Kirchner’s argument is meritless. We have specified that a reckless disregard of creating a risk of public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm is sufficient, “even if the [defendant’s] intent was to send a message to a certain individual, rather than to cause public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm.” Maerz, 879 A.2d at 1269. Here, Kirchner acted with a reckless disregard of creating a risk of public alarm, as evidenced by the fact that an eyewitness on J-S28020-19 - 7 - a neighboring property contacted 911 because Kirchner’s actions caused her to feel insecure.
Where is the "public risk" in making the gesture? Some snowflake neighbor couldn't bear seeing a gun -- even just the hint of a non-existent gun -- and called the police like a good little Nazi...er, citizen.
This is not a Second Amendment issue. It's a sanity issue. And the Superior Court judges who made this determination are risking "public alarm" that Pennsylvania has judges who are not in their right minds.