Republican Rep. Ralph Norman (S.C.) pulled out a loaded handgun during a meeting with constituents on Friday to make the point that guns are not always dangerous.
Norman, a concealed carry permit holder, acknowledged to The Post and Courier that he showed his loaded .38-caliber Smith & Wesson during a “coffee with constituents” event in his home district.
“I’m not going to be a Gabby Giffords,” the lawmaker said, according to the paper. “I don’t mind dying, but whoever shoots me better shoot well or I’m shooting back.”
Giffords, a former Democratic representative from Arizona, was shot in the head during a constituent event in 2011. Giffords went on to become a vocal advocate for tougher gun control.
Norman said he displayed his handgun to show that “guns don’t shoot people, people shoot guns.”
“Guns are not the problem,” he said.
Norman suggested he might pull out the handgun again.
Several constituents at the gathering had said they were disturbed by the incident.
Norman, though, dismissed their concerns. He said he pulled out the gun and left it on a table, where it was not pointing at the attendees.
The February mass shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school that killed 17 has ignited protests and demonstrations across the country for tougher measures to prevent gun violence.
South Carolina suffered a mass shooting in 2015, when self-described white supremacist Dylann Roof killed nine black congregants in a church in Charleston.