Congressman Takes Out Loaded Firearm During Gun Control Meeting, ‘I’m Not Going To Be A Gabby Giffords’

Ralph Norman smiles as he speaks before his supporters.
Chuck Burton / AP Images

Congressman Ralph Norman of South Carolina thought pulling out a loaded gun was the best way to prove his argument with regards to the ongoing controversy over gun control. His constituents, however, apparently thought otherwise as they felt unsafe with the gun right in front of them.

Norman was in a roundtable meeting in Rock Hill with some of his constituents on Friday to discuss the matter of gun violence and gun control, an issue that’s been sweeping the country especially after the Parkland high school shooting which claimed 17 lives, when he pulled out his loaded 38-caliber Smith & Wesson, according to Politico.

The Republican lawmaker placed the loaded gun on the table for “several minutes” during the “coffee with constituents” meeting as he insisted that having the gun there made it safer for everyone. According to those who were at the gathering, however, they felt the opposite.

Lori Freeman, one of the volunteers who attended the discussion, said she felt unsafe after Norman insisted that he bring out his loaded gun. The lawmaker also insisted to leave the gun on the table while the meeting continued.

“Rep. Norman’s behavior today was a far cry from what responsible gun ownership looks like,” said Freeman. “I had looked forward to a respectful dialogue with my representative about common-sense gun violence prevention policies.”

According to Norman, however, he pulled out his loaded gun to show the people there that “guns don’t shoot people, people shoot guns.”

In a statement released by his office, Norman said he “merely proved a point that guns themselves are not the issue.”

“Given the scenario that if someone had walked into that diner and began to fire a weapon, I told them I would be able to defend myself and them as well,” Norman said.

Norman also said that the true cause of mass shootings and other acts of violence involving guns is mental health and not the firearms themselves.

“Mental health, and more importantly, a lack of morality is the driving force behind this epidemic,” Norman said.

“Guns are not the problem.”

Norman also said that he’s “tired of these liberals jumping on the guns themselves as if they are the cause of the problem.”

Norman also brought up the failed assassination of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in 2011.

I’m not going to be a Gabby Giffords,” Norman told the Post and Courier. “I don’t mind dying, but whoever shoots me better shoot well or I’m shooting back.”

Giffords, a former Democrat lawmaker from Arizona, was shot and seriously wounded by Jared Loughner while she was in a meeting with constituents in Tucson. Six people, including U.S. District Judge John Roll and a 9-year-old girl, were killed during the shooting. Incidentally, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released new photos and a video related to the shooting, according to azcentral.

Mark Kelly, former NASA astronaut and husband of Giffords, released a statement criticizing Norman for his actions and comments, USA Today reported. He told Norman through a statement that he “is no Gabby Giffords.”

“Americans are increasingly faced with a stark choice: leaders like Gabby, who work hard together to find solutions to problems, or extremists like the NRA and Congressman Norman, who rely on intimidation tactics and perpetuating fear,” Kelly said.