SC congressman pulls out own gun to make point about violence

A South Carolina congressman pulled out his personal handgun -- a loaded, .38 caliber Smith & Wesson -- and laid it on the table at a diner where he was meeting with constituents, CNN reported.

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Rep. Ralph Norman was meeting with voters in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and he said he took out the gun to make a point in the debate over gun violence.

“I merely proved a point that guns themselves are not the issue," Norman told CNN.

Norman said having a loaded gun should have made others feel safer.

"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," he told CNN.

"I'm not going to be a Gabby Giffords," Norman told The Post and Courier, referring to the former Democratic congresswoman who was shot in 2011 during a rally in her Arizona district. "I don't mind dying, but whoever shoots me better shoot well or I'm shooting back."

One person in the diner was upset at Norman’s actions.

"Rep. Norman's behavior today was a far cry from what responsible gun ownership looks like," Lori Freemon said in a statement released by Everytown, the gun control organization for which she volunteers.

"I had looked forward to a respectful dialogue with my representative about common sense gun violence prevention policies," the statement said. "Instead, I felt unsafe when he insisted on showing us his loaded gun and keeping it out on the table for much of our conversation."

But to Norman, the gun isn't the issue.

"Mental health, and more importantly, a lack of morality, is the driving force behind this epidemic. Guns are not the problem," Norman told CNN.