A Republican Congressman Met with Constituents, Pulled Out a Loaded Gun, and Then Said He Wouldn’t Be “a Gabby Giffords”

This happened at a discussion on how to prevent gun violence.

Chuck Burton/AP

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South Carolina Republican congressman Ralph Norman reportedly pulled out a loaded pistol on Friday at an event in his home district in Rock Hill, South Carolina. The episode happened at a scheduled “coffee with constituents” meeting about gun violence prevention.

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, the former Arizona congresswoman, narrowly survived a shooting in 2011 outside an Arizona grocery store; she now advocates against gun violence.

Not all of his constituents were pleased. “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.”

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.

Norman better be careful—as my Mother Jones colleague Tim Murphy wrote in 2014—politicians have a long history of unintentionally firing, dropping, and losing their firearms.

Good luck, Norman!

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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