Rep. Ralph Norman, a conservative first-term Republican South Carolina Congressman, shocked some constituents meeting with him to discuss sensible gun laws when he suddenly pulled out his loaded 38 caliber Smith & Wesson handgun and put it on the restaurant table, and left it there.
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One of the three people meeting with Norman for breakfast in a Rock Hill, South Carolina diner, Lori Carter, a public school teacher from Charlotte, N.C., said about 20 minutes into the meeting – just after she had told the group that gun violence is a mental or emotional issue, and not a gun issue – she was surprised when Norman flashed his gun.
“He chose to take the gun out and put it on the table not knowing if any of us had mental health issues,” Carter, told the Post & Courier newspaper.
“What was to prevent me from leaning across the table to take that gun?” she asked. “So to me, it was contradictory.”
Lori Freemon, a volunteer with the South Carolina chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense In America, a group that advocates sensible gun control, said what Norman did was “a far cry from what responsible gun ownership looks like.”
“I had looked forward to a respectful dialogue with my representative about common-sense gun violence prevention policies,” a clearly perturbed Freemon told the Post & Courier.
“Instead,” added Freemon, “I felt unsafe when he insisted on showing us his loaded gun and keeping it out on the table for much of our conversation.”
Norman, a 64-year-old real estate developer from Rock Hill and a former state Representative, won his seat by in the House last year in a close special election to replace Mick Mulvaney, who left Congress to become Trump’s controversial budget director.
In a meeting with @MomsDemand volunteers, South Carolina Congressman @RalphNorman brandished a loaded gun to prove what a responsible gun owner he is: "Whether Norman violated any of the state's gun handling laws is unclear." https://t.co/oYrXQTcuBk
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) April 6, 2018
He told The Post & Courier after the breakfast incident that he was not backing down for pulling out his pistol despite the criticism.
Norman said he wanted to make the point that “guns don’t shoot people, people shoot guns.”
Norman has a permit to carry a concealed weapon and said he regularly carries his pistol in public.
“If anyone walked into the diner and started shooting, Norman told the attendees,” according to the Post & Courier, “he would be able to protect them because of his gun.”
“I’m not going to be a Garry Giffords,” said Norman, making a negative reference about the former Arizona congresswoman who was shot outside a Tucson-area Grocery story in 2011, who with her husband has become a courageous crusader for gun control.
“I don’t mind dying,” snarled Norman, “but whoever shoots me better shoot well or I’m shooting back.”
Norman said he not only did not regret taking out his gun but that he now will do it more frequently in the future when meeting with constituents.
He claimed none of those at his breakfast meeting were really scared because nobody jumped up or tried to leave.
Norman’s intransigence was in line with his past behavior. During the primary last year, Norman was discussing a bill that would allow police officers to be treated for PTSD under worker’s compensation.
Norman was against it, he said, because “Any one of us could get a crayon and coloring book and start coloring and chewing on the desk and we would be deemed mentally incompetent and we would get paid – and there would be no ending to it.”
“It was Norman’s mockery of police mental injuries that has people riled up,” reported the Independent Journal Review, in an article that charged he mocked injured police.
That article also quotes Jonathan Lubecky, an Iraq war veteran, who noted Norman never served in the military but now believes it “isn’t the government’s responsibility to treat or pay disability.”
Lubecky wrote in RedState.com that makes Norman “unqualified to hold the office of Congressman.”
There could be an ending to Norman’s undistinguished and short career in Congress, however, possibly as soon as November, when he is running against three challengers, both Republican and Democrat.
In the very red state of South Carolina, where Republicans win by big majorities – Trump won in 2016 by about 14 percentage points – Norman only won the special election in February 2017 against a Democrat by about one percent of the vote, with a plurality of 221 votes out of 35,000 cast – so he is far from a sure thing.
And they wonder why we march.
— Holly Figueroa O'Reilly (@AynRandPaulRyan) April 6, 2018
Perhaps the growing movement for sensible gun control will now lead advocates to work for one of his opponent and against Norman, which might turn the tide against him.
Then he would be back in his real estate office with his gun for comfort.