ROCK HILL, S.C. — A South Carolina congressman pulled out his own loaded handgun during a meeting with constituents Friday to make a point that guns are dangerous only in the hands of criminals.
Republican U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman placed the .38-caliber gun on a table during the "coffee with constituents" meeting at a Rock Hill restaurant, news outlets reported.
"I'm not going to be a Gabby Giffords," Norman said, referring to the former Arizona congresswoman who was shot outside a grocery store during a constituent gathering in 2011.
Giffords' husband, retired NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, said in a statement that Norman is "no Gabby Giffords" and noted that his wife has dedicated her life to ending gun violence.
"Americans are increasingly faced with a stark choice: leaders like Gabby, who work hard together to find solutions to problems, or extremists like the NRA and Congressman Norman, who rely on intimidation tactics and perpetuating fear," Kelly said.
Norman said he'll display his gun at future constituent meetings.
"I'm tired of these liberals jumping on the guns themselves as if they are the cause of the problem," Norman told The Post and Courier. "Guns are not the problem."
School teacher Lori Carter of Charlotte, North Carolina, said she thought the move was contradictory because Norman didn't know if someone there had mental health issues.
"What was to prevent me from leaning across the table to take that gun?" she said.