The finger gun is a hand gesture in which the subject uses 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.
It is also sometimes used by placing the "gun" to the side of one's own head or under the chin, as if committing suicide, to indicate a strong desire to be put out of one's misery, either from boredom or exasperation. In addition, it can also be used as a way to say an awkward "hey" or "what's up" to friends or acquaintances. It can be used as an insulting gesture, as to suggest your brains should be blown out.
Children and teenagers 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. These have often been labeled "ridiculous" by some commentators.
In 2006, Fahim Ahmad allegedly made the gesture when speaking about the possibility of Canadian Security Intelligence Service agents ever coming to his apartment, which was used as evidence of his conspiracy to commit terrorism by a police informant.
Fans of Texas Tech University use a form of this hand gesture with fingers always pointed upward, called "Guns Up." The idea is that the Red Raiders, as the university's sports teams are called, will shoot down their opponents. The Guns Up sign is the widely recognized greeting of one Red Raider to another. It is also the sign of victory displayed by the crowd at every athletic event.
In popular culture
In the climactic scene of the 1976 film Taxi Driver directed by Martin Scorsese the heavily wounded protagonist Travis Bickle (played by Robert De Niro) after a gunfight in a brothel, surrounded by the police forces attempts several times to fire a bullet into his own head from under his chin, but all his weapons are out of ammunition, so he instead resigns himself to resting on a sofa and when a police officer approaches him he ″shoots″ himself several times in the left forehead using the finger gun gesture.
In the anime Yu Yu Hakusho, main character Yusuke Urameshi's signature technique involves using the finger gun pose, followed by shouting "Spirit Gun" which discharges a bolt of spiritual energy from the tip of the extended finger gun gesture. Similarly, in the anime Cowboy Bebop, main character Spike Spiegel is seen using the finger gun gesture, always followed with him saying "Bang."
In an episode of season six of The Office, Pam Halpert, Andy Bernard, Dwight Schrute, and Michael Scott hold each other at finger-gunpoint as the climax to a role playing game that the entire office had been participating in. The scene ends with Pam leaving to go home, and Michael, Dwight, and Andy finger-shooting each other to death.
In the movie Crank, the protagonist Chev Chelios threatens several armed gang members with the gesture, then 'shoots' one, who is promptly shot with a silenced pistol by a rival gang. The sequel also includes a similar scene.
In Jeepers Creepers 2, the upside-down creeper at the end of the school bus performs a finger gun gesture at one of his victims.
In Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, Todd Ingram is arrested by the Vegan Police, who use finger guns to de-veganize Todd
In Team Fortress 2, one of the Heavy class's taunts is the gesture of the finger gun (though it actually causes lethal damage in-game).
- Hoy, Wayne K. "Educational Leadership and Reform", ISBN 1-59311-321-8, 2005. p. 311
- Boston Herald, "School gives hands-on lesson after kids pull finger-guns", March 28, 2000
- Stahl, Michael J. "Ethical Perspectives", ISBN 0-7817-5541-7, 2004. p. 2
- PBS, Frontline, Canada: The Cell Next Door, January 30, 2007