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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, or to express one's dislike for a situation. In addition, it can also be used as a way to say "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.
Sometimes, often with both hands, finger guns are used in situations where a person has intentionally done something cringe-worthy, causing second-hand embarrassment for those around them. (esp. a bad pun) The gesture claims ownership over the action and the intent, and can intensify the feelings of shame.
Children, teenagers and a teacher's assistant 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 2014 the gesture and cheer were adopted and adapted by the Southeastern Louisiana University Lions where the gesture represents an "L" for and the cheer is "Lion Up!"
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 airport scene of the comedy film Bean, the character Bean (played by Rowan Atkinson) spots a airport police officer with a firearm on his belt. Curiously, Bean makes his hand into a finger gun where it catches the attention of the officers, which scares Bean into running away. After the chase, surrounded by airport police and told to drop his weapon. He carefully places his finger gun onto the floor.
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. Also, in the anime Cowboy Bebop, main character Spike Spiegel is seen using the finger gun gesture, always followed with him saying "Bang." Additionally, in the manga and anime Naruto, the members of the Hozuki Clan can use the "Water Gun Jutsu" by using the finger gun gesture and, upon pretending to fire, squirting water out of the "barrel" as a projectile.
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, called "Belles, Bourbon and Bullets". The scene ends with Pam leaving to go home, and Michael, Dwight, and Andy finger-shooting each other to death, as Pam drives away.
In the British TV sitcom Spaced, characters Tim Bisley and Mike Watt use the gesture multiple times (along with mimicking shotguns and grenades) while trying to demonstrate to Brian Topp the 'biological connection between male psyches'. Brian eventually joins in, mowing Brian down with a 'machine gun'. The gesture reappears later on in the episode, when Tim and Daisy are cornered by a group of youths who mistakenly stole Oregano from the pair, believing it to be Marijuana. As the situation escalates, Tim and Daisy draw finger guns, and a pretend gunfight to the death ensues.
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 melee taunts is the use of the finger gun, accompanied by the Heavy shouting "Pow, Ha ha!". If another player on the opposing team is in range, the finger gun will usually kill them instantly.
In season one of Stranger Things, Eleven uses a finger gun gesture to the side of her head when explaining to Mike what the "bad people" will do to her if they find her.
In Chronicle, Andrew Detmer uses the finger gun gesture to threaten a local gang member, who laughs at him and returns the gesture while showing off a real gun. Andrew then pretends to shoot him, actually using telekinesis to knock him down.
In the video game Undertale, the true final boss Flowey attacks with finger guns on vines that shoot fingers at the protagonist.
- Hoy, Wayne K. (2005). Educational Leadership and Reform. p. 311. ISBN 1-59311-321-8.
- "School gives hands-on lesson after kids pull finger-guns". Boston Herald. March 28, 2000.
- "Boys Get In Trouble For Playing With Finger Guns". TheDenverChannel.com. May 14, 2002. Retrieved December 11, 2016.
- Stahl, Michael J. (2004). Ethical Perspectives. p. 2. ISBN 0-7817-5541-7.
- "Canada: The Cell Next Door". Frontline. PBS. January 30, 2007.
- "Guns Up | History & Traditions". Texas Tech University. August 25, 2016. Retrieved December 11, 2016.
- Artigues, Jay (August 29, 2014). "Luncheon address". Hammond Chamber of Commerce Regular Meeting. Hammond, Louisiana.