A Missouri man is facing a felony charge and a civil lawsuit over a road rage incident that saw him point a gun at a Democratic activist whose car is covered with left-wing bumper stickers after the pair exchanged a series of crude hand gestures.
Edward K. Burns, 48, was slapped with one count of unlawful use of a weapon, a class E felony, in a car accident that stemmed from a political disagreement, the Springfield News-Leader reported. Police officers in Ozark were dispatched to the scene of a two-vehicle crash with knowledge that one of the drivers was likely carrying a firearm.
When they arrived, they found Burns and Laura Umphenour, an activist who is well-known in the area for attending left-leaning protests. The political nemeses had “exchanged offensive hand gestures” in a spat that saw Umphenour pull up next to Burns and give him the middle finger.
In response, Burns allegedly brandished his Smith & Wesson .380 handgun from his hip holster and pointed it right back at Umphenour. The move frightened her, so she “jerked the steering wheel, lost control of her vehicle, struck the front of (Burns’) SUV, and slid across the roadway into a guardrail,” a probable cause statement revealed.
Upon being taken into custody, Burns “confessed to pointing a gun at (Umphenour) in an attempt to get her to back off.” He also blamed his anger on a slew of bumper stickers that covered the back of her van, claiming that he thought they were “stupid” and made him “very angry.”
Ultimately, Burns cooperated with police and “admitted he made a bad decision.” He was held for several days before posting a $5,000 bond and pleaded not guilty the day after the incident. Umphenour contacted the newspaper to announce that she intended to file a civil petition against Burns.
“This is a very serious and important case in our community because we don’t need hotheads on the highways taking the law in their own hands,” her attorney, David Ransin, said. “And it is the ultimate of distracted driving when you’re going down an interstate focusing on pointing a loaded weapon at another driver and demonstrated a lack of value of other human life both for Laura and for other innocent members of our community.”
Ransin wants Burns to not only compensate Umphenour for “harms and losses” stemming from the crash, but he also wants Burns’ conceal carry permit to be revoked.