When Lori Freemon decided to attend her Congressman’s latest constituent breakfast this morning, she wasn’t expecting anyone to put a loaded firearm on the table. Unfortunately for Freemon, a local volunteer for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, her South Carolina Congressional district is represented by freshman Republican Ralph Norman, who did exactly that. As Freemon told the Post and Courier:
"I had looked forward to a respectful dialogue with my representative about common-sense gun violence prevention policies," said Freemon, one of three people who were talking to Norman at the time.
"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.”
Surely there must be some context here that’s being overlooked. There has to be more to this story that will help it make sense.
Lori Carter said Norman put the gun on the table about 20 minutes into the conversation. She said he had just finished telling the group that gun violence is a spiritual, mental or people issue, not a gun issue.
"And then he chose to take the gun out and put it on the table not knowing if any of us had mental health issues," said Carter, a public school teacher from Charlotte, N.C.
"What was to prevent me from leaning across the table to take that gun?" she said.
Well, that makes it worse.
Norman, who won Mick Mulvaney’s former seat by less than four points in last June’s special election, is unapologetic about his behavior at the semi-regular event, held in a local diner in Rock Hill, southwest of Charlotte.
"I'm not going to be a Gabby Giffords," Norman said afterward, referring to a former Arizona congresswoman who was shot outside a Tucson-area grocery store in 2011. "I don't mind dying, but whoever shoots me better shoot well or I'm shooting back."
Surely it’s petty to acknowledge that Giffords isn’t dead despite being shot in the head, because that’s not Norman’s point. Giffords also isn’t an asshole who goes after survivors of gun violence, so now we’ve got a few ways they’re different, beyond all the other ways that this man will never be qualified to stand in Giffords’ shadow.
Norman, who is up for re-election in November, remains completely unfazed by his constituents’ response, as he whined to the Charlotte Observer:
Norman said he put the gun on the table to prove a point — that a gun by itself can't shoot someone.
"I'm just tired of the guns being blamed," he said. "I'm tired of the NRA being blamed. I'm tired of the police being blamed."
Poor guns. Poor NRA. Poor police.
Those sentiments paint a picture of a frustrated and irresponsible gun owner who maybe shouldn't have a gun, especially when combined with other comments he made.
"I'm tired of these liberals jumping on the guns themselves as if they are the cause of the problem," Norman said. “Guns are not the problem."
Don’t worry, Ralph. People think you’re the problem.
His GOP family is rooting for him, though. Check out this shrewd solidarity from the South Carolina Grand Ole Party Chairman, Drew McKissick:
It gets better!
While the GOP makes crappy jokes about snowflakes that nobody RTs, McKissick’s Democratic counterpart is wondering if Norman committed a crime.
According to the Post and Courier, South Carolina’s gun laws do allow concealed carry, but forbid pointing it at people. The crime that Robertson argues Norman may have committed carries a steep penalty indeed.
It is also illegal for gun owners to "to present or point at another person a loaded or unloaded firearm," with a penalty of up to five years in prison.
That might be the only thing that hurts his reelection chances. Norman’s district went 57-39 for Trump when Mulvaney won in it 2016.
Either way, Norman continues to stand by his little Smith and Wesson lesson plan, even going so far as to promise the Post and Courier that he’ll make it a regular thing from here on out.
The move, Norman said, was intended to prove that "guns don't shoot people, people shoot guns."
Far from regretting the decision, Norman said he plans to do it more often at constituent meetings moving forward.