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Kingsville man who fired gun following encounter with Republicans is sentenced to 18 months’ probation

After a Kingsville man who shot a gun following an encounter with two men over political signs pleaded guilty to second-degree assault, a Maryland judge sentenced him to 18 months of supervised probation.

Douglas Kuhn, 50, faced several charges of first- and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and discharging a weapon within a metropolitan district because he fired a shotgun after two men, Neal Houk and Bradley Lang, honked at Kuhn as he was putting up a “Black Lives Matter” sign in his yard Oct. 18.

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Per a plea agreement, all charges, other than the misdemeanor second-degree assault, were dropped.

Houk and Lang, his son, were driving a pickup truck with a large “Trump 2020” sign mounted in the bed while out posting political signs when they drove past Kuhn’s home around 2:30 p.m.

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Houk told police that after honking at Kuhn, he saw Kuhn retrieve a shotgun from the ground and aim it at the truck as Houk made a right turn onto Mount Vista Road from Cedar Lane.

Kuhn fired one shot, and there was no damage to the vehicle or the passengers. Mark Scheuerman, Kuhn’s attorney, said during the trial that Kuhn did not fire the weapon in the direction of the truck, and Houk said he didn’t see Kuhn fire the weapon.

Kuhn testified in Baltimore County Circuit Court on Wednesday that his reaction was the culmination of “several months of being harassed” by passersby over his political yard signs supporting then-presidential candidate Joe Biden and the Black Lives Matter movement, some of which were stolen from his property.

“I was emotional,” he said, adding he shouldn’t have had a gun.

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“I did not have any intention of shooting or harming anyone,” he said.

Lang, an elected member of the Baltimore County Republican Central Committee and legislative aid to Republican Councilman David Marks, said he understands “how stressful it can be to deal with political opposition” as a conservative resident of a largely Democratic county.

He said he’s been yelled at and spit on because of his political affiliation.

“I’ve never considered [reacting with] violence in any way,” he told the court.

Per the plea agreement, Judge John J. Nagle III sentenced Kuhn to 18 months of jail time, but suspended all time served other than the five months Kuhn served in home detention.

In Maryland, those found guilty of the misdemeanor crime of assault may not own a firearm for up to 10 years.

Nagle declined to impose a $1,000 fine against Kuhn, but required him to pay court fees. Kuhn is also barred from having contact with Houk and Lang.

Noting that Kuhn has never committed a violent offense, Nagle said he took context into account during the sentencing and acknowledged the emotionally charged nature of the 2020 presidential election.

“There has been so much vitriol on both sides,” he said.

Outside the courtroom after sentencing, Houk and Lang said Kuhn got “a slap on the wrist.”

Kuhn’s five months of house arrest meant little, Houk said, considering many Americans have been confining themselves to their homes amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Lang said the lack of a stricter sentence will encourage “further political violence” with “no consequences.”

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