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South Carolina congressman draws gun at constituent meeting

(AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

A South Carolina congressman pulled out his own loaded handgun during a meeting with constituents Friday to make a point that guns are dangerous only in the hands of criminals.

Republican U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman placed the .38-caliber gun on a table during the "coffee with constituents" meeting at a Rock Hill restaurant, news outlets reported.

"I'm not going to be a Gabby Giffords," Norman said, referring to the former Arizona congresswoman who was shot outside a grocery store during a constituent gathering in 2011.

Giffords' husband, retired NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, said in a statement that Norman is "no Gabby Giffords" and noted that his wife has dedicated her life to ending gun violence.

"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.

Norman said he'll display his gun at future constituent meetings.

"I'm tired of these liberals jumping on the guns themselves as if they are the cause of the problem," Norman told The Post and Courier. "Guns are not the problem."

School teacher Lori Carter of Charlotte, North Carolina, said she thought the move was contradictory because Norman didn't know if someone there had mental health issues.

"What was to prevent me from leaning across the table to take that gun?" she said.

South Carolina Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Phil Noble released a statement tonight to respond to U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman’s incident today:

“Let's be clear on what happened today: Ralph Norman pulled out a loaded gun, waved it around in a crowd of strangers, and then started ranting about former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords who was shot in the head in 2011 at a similar event. The fact is, if he didn't have the word 'Congressman' in front of his name, he'd be undergoing a mandatory, 24-hour psych evaluation right now -- and, frankly, that's exactly where he belongs," said Noble.

In reaction to the incident, the South Carolina Democratic Party has called on SLED to investigate Norman and revoke his permit.

"This is a felony offense and punishable by up to five years in prison. That's why I will be sending an official request to SLED to investigate Congressman Norman's dangerous actions," explained SCDP Chairman Trav Robertson.

He continued on saying, "Rep. Norman only did this because he barely got elected the first time and needs votes. He's worried about his campaign. This was a stunt and he should be punished for violating the law. I hope law enforcement moves swiftly to resolve the matter. It didn't work for Roy Moore and it won't work for Ralph Norman."

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