Rep. Ralph Norman pulled out a loaded pistol while discussing gun-violence prevention during a meeting with constituents in South Carolina on Friday, according to several advocacy group members in attendance.
Volunteers for the South Carolina chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America said in a news release that the lawmaker laid out a loaded firearm while discussing gun safety at an event in Rock Hill.
According to the group, the pistol was left out for “several minutes” while Norman “kept telling his constituents that the presence of the gun made them safer.”
“Rep. Norman’s behavior today was a far cry from what responsible gun ownership looks like,” Lori Freemon, a volunteer who attended the meeting, said in a news release. “I had looked forward to a respectful dialogue with my representative about common-sense gun violence prevention policies.”
She added: “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.”
A spokesperson for Norman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
But Norman confirmed to The Post and Courier that he pulled out a loaded .38-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun during a “coffee with constituents” meeting in Rock Hill. The lawmaker told the newspaper he took out the firearm to illustrate that “guns don’t shoot people, people shoot guns.”
The South Carolina lawmaker, who recently announced he was running for re-election this year, said he holds a concealed carry permit and frequently brings a firearm with him in public.
Norman cited the shooting of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who was seriously wounded during a 2011 constituent meeting, in explaining his decision.
“I’m not going to be a Gabby Giffords,” Norman told the newspaper. “I don’t mind dying, but whoever shoots me better shoot well or I’m shooting back.”