The finger gun is a hand gesture in which a person will use their hand to mimic a handgun, raising their thumb above their fist to act as a hammer, and one or two fingers extended perpendicular to it acting as a barrel. The middle finger can also act as the trigger finger or part of the barrel itself. Also, an optional clicking of the fingers or making firing sounds with the mouth can be included when forming the "gun" as to emphasise the gesture. The gesture can be intended to be a threat, or simply a friendly gesture.

The finger gun gesture



The "finger gun" is sometimes used to indicate a strong desire to be put out of one's misery, either from boredom or exasperation, or to express one's dislike for a situation. It can be used as an insulting gesture, as to suggest that another person's brain should be blown out of the back of their head. (It is generally used as an insulting gesture or as a means of intimidation.)

Another form is the combination of two hands to express a greeting, or to acknowledge something as funny, clever, or insightful, like Gotcha! or What's up?[1]

Laws and rulings


In 2019, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania ruled that using a "gun-like hand gesture", "imitating the firing and recoiling of a gun" as intimidation, is a crime of disorderly conduct.[2]

In schools


Children, teenagers and teacher's assistants have occasionally been punished or removed from school for making the gesture. In some cases, this was because authority figures interpreted it as a signal for threatening real violence, while in others they interpreted it as unacceptably supportive of gun violence in general.[3][4][5] These have often been labeled as "ridiculous" by most commentators.[6]

In 2006, Fahim Ahmad allegedly made the gesture when speaking about the possibility of Canadian Security Intelligence Service agents coming to his apartment, which was used as evidence of his conspiracy to commit terrorism by a police informant.[7]




Jair Bolsonaro making the finger gun gesture

Former president of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro usually makes the finger gun gesture alluding to his ideas of changing the gun control laws to make weapons more accessible to the regular citizen.[8][9] This gesture became a symbol of the Bolsonarism, being used by supporters of the ideology.[10]

On 27 September 2019, Jair Bolsonaro's son, deputy Eduardo Bolsonaro (PSL), posed for a photo in front of the Non-Violence sculpture at the United Nations headquarters in New York City making the finger gun gesture.[11][12]

In film and television


In cinema, the gesture has been used extensively, often for comedic effect, and two well-known cases are those in the Italian film Where Are You Going on Holiday? in 1978, in which it is done by the character played by Elisabetta Pozzi, and in the 1985 film The Breakfast Club, in which it is used by actress Ally Sheedy. Additional examples include Death Wish, The Losers, The Expendables 2, Crank, Taxi Driver, Gran Torino, Reservoir Dogs, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Spring Breakers, Better Call Saul, and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. The finger gun is used multiple times by the titular character from the TV series Veronica Mars.[13] It is also famously used in both UK and U.S. versions of The Office.[14] The gesture is also used as a technique in YuYu Hakusho by the main character, Yusuke Urameshi, whereby he can shoot spirit energy out of his index finger, the Spirit Gun.


  1. ^ "finger guns - POP CULTURE DICTIONARY". 2020-01-30. Retrieved 2021-12-07.
  2. ^ CBS News, CBS 21 (2019-08-28). "Pennsylvania court rules that man's 'gun-like hand gesture' is a crime". WHP. Retrieved 2019-08-29.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ Hoy, Wayne K. (2005). Educational Leadership and Reform. p. 311. ISBN 1-59311-321-8.
  4. ^ "School gives hands-on lesson after kids pull finger-guns". Boston Herald. March 28, 2000.
  5. ^ "Boys Get In Trouble For Playing With Finger Guns". May 14, 2002. Archived from the original on March 15, 2012. Retrieved December 11, 2016.
  6. ^ Stahl, Michael J. (2004). Ethical Perspectives. p. 2. ISBN 0-7817-5541-7.
  7. ^ "Canada: The Cell Next Door". Frontline. PBS. January 30, 2007.
  8. ^ "Hyper-Masculinity and Gun Control in Jair Bolsonaro's Brazil". The Globe Post. 2019-01-09. Retrieved 2020-07-25.
  9. ^ Trevisani, Paulo (2019-05-08). "Bolsonaro Further Eases Brazilians' Access to Guns". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2020-07-25.
  10. ^ "Em apoio a Bolsonaro, mulher faz sinal de armas em frente à imagem de Jesus" [Supporting Bolsonaro, woman make finger gun gesture in front of image of Jesus]. Band Notícias. 17 October 2018.
  11. ^ "Eduardo Bolsonaro se explica por "arminha" em frente a escultura pela paz". (in Brazilian Portuguese). Retrieved 2020-07-25.
  12. ^ "Eduardo Bolsonaro faz gesto de arma em frente a monumento pela paz em NY" [Eduardo Bolsonaro makes a fire-gun gesture in front of monument for the peace at NY]. Folha de São Paulo. 27 September 2019.
  13. ^ "Top 10 Finger guns (in the movies)". Popbabble. 2016-07-12. Retrieved 2022-05-07.
  14. ^ Standoff - The Office US, retrieved 2022-05-07