South Carolina Republican congressman Ralph Norman said he won’t “be a Gabby Giffords” after being called out for brandishing a loaded firearm at a recent “coffee with constituents” to discuss gun violence.
Norman laid the pistol out on a table in front of him for “several minutes,” telling the crowd that “the presence of the gun made them safer,” according to a news release from a South Carolina chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
Norman later told the Post and Courier, “I’m not going to be a Gabby Giffords.” He added, “I don’t mind dying, but whoever shoots me better shoot well or I’m shooting back.”
Giffords was shot during an outdoor meeting with her Arizona constituents in 2011, an incident that left her with a severe brain injury, and has since gone on to advocate against gun violence.
Though it’s likely some supported Norman’s gesture, not everyone present appreciated the move.
“Rep. Norman’s behavior today was a far cry from what responsible gun ownership looks like,” Lori Freemon, an attendee at 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.”
But that won’t stop the Republican from displaying his weapon again:
Norman told Post and Courtier that the pistol was a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun and that he “pointed it away from the meeting attendees.” He added that he plans to display the pistol more often at future constituent meetings.