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US congressman pulls loaded gun at constituent meeting
[WASHINGTON] A US congressman pulled out a loaded Smith & Wesson pistol during a meeting with constituents Friday in a bid to make a point about gun safety, according to a local report.
House Republican Ralph Norman of South Carolina told The Post and Courier newspaper that he drew the handgun and placed it on a table while at a "Coffee With Your Congressman" event at a diner, in an attempt to convey that guns are only dangerous if in the wrong hands.
"I'm not going to be a Gabby Giffords," said Mr Norman, 64, referring to the former congresswoman from Arizona who was shot in the head during a meet-and-greet outside a grocery store in 2011.
Ms Giffords was gravely wounded in that attack. She survived and became a prominent advocate against gun violence.
"I don't mind dying," Mr Norman added, according to the paper. "But whoever shoots me better shoot well or I'm shooting back."
Mr Norman's indelicate reference to Ms Giffords appeared to suggest that her debilitating injury was in some way due to her not being adequately armed.
Mr Norman said he is a concealed carry permit holder and regularly brings his gun with him when in public, according to the newspaper.
Friday's incident came as Americans debate the prospect of Congress passing new gun safety laws in the wake of several mass shootings, including a February massacre at a Florida high school that left 17 people dead.
Last year during his unsuccessful US Senate campaign, former judge Roy Moore of Alabama drew a pistol from his pocket while on stage at a rally as a way to show the Republican candidate's commitment to the constitutional right to bear arms.