A lawmaker from South Carolina pulled out his loaded pistol during a meeting with his constituents Friday to make a point about gun safety, according to advocacy group members who were present.
Rep. Ralph Norman, R-South Carolina, placed the gun on a table for “several minutes” while arguing that the presence of the weapon in the room made his constituents safer, according to volunteers for the South Carolina chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
“Rep. Norman’s behavior today was a far cry from what responsible gun ownership looks like,” said Lori Freemon, a volunteer who attended the meeting, in a news release. “I had looked forward to a respectful dialogue with my representative about common-sense gun violence prevention policies.”
“Instead, I felt unsafe when he insisted on showing us his loaded gun and keeping it out on the table for much of our conversation,” she said.
A spokesman for Norman could not be immediately reached.
Norman told the Post and Courier, however, that he pulled out the gun during a public meeting over breakfast at a Rock Hill diner to make the point that guns are only dangerous when they are in the hands of criminals. As a concealed carry permit holder, Norman said he often carries his guns with him in public.
The demonstration, he said, was intended to prove to constituents that “guns don’t shoot people, people shoot guns,” according to the Post and Courier. Norman told the attendees that if someone were to walk into the diner and begin shooting at them, he’d be able to protect them because of his gun.
“I’m not going to be a Gabby Giffords,” Norman told the Post and Courier afterward, referring to the 2011 shooting of an Arizona congresswoman during a public appearance in the Tucson area. “I don’t mind dying, but whoever shoots me better shoot well or I’m shooting back.”
Norman said he does not regret pulling out his gun – and in fact plans to conduct the same demonstration at other constituent meetings moving forward, according to the Post and Courier, and denied that any of the attendees at Friday meetings jumped or appeared frightened by the gun.
“I’m tired of these liberals jumping on the guns themselves as if they are the cause of the problem,” Norman told the newspaper. “Guns are not the problem.”