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Social media pounces on SC congressman who pulled out loaded gun at public event

In this 2017 file photo, Republican Ralph Norman speaks to supporters at a campaign party in Rock Hill, S.C., after winning South Carolina's 5th Congressional District. Norman pulled out his own loaded handgun during a meeting with constituents on Friday to make a point that guns are dangerous only in the hands of criminals.
In this 2017 file photo, Republican Ralph Norman speaks to supporters at a campaign party in Rock Hill, S.C., after winning South Carolina's 5th Congressional District. Norman pulled out his own loaded handgun during a meeting with constituents on Friday to make a point that guns are dangerous only in the hands of criminals. AP

A South Carolina congressman prompted a social media outcry by pulling out a gun at a voter meet-and-greet Friday morning.

U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman, R-Rock Hill, said he put the gun on a table at Rock Hill Diner on Cherry Road to prove a point — that a gun by itself can't shoot someone, The (Rock Hill) Herald reported. Among those at the event were people with Moms Demand Action, who were urging Norman to support gun control legislation.

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"I'm just tired of the guns being blamed," he told the newspaper. "I'm tired of the NRA being blamed. I'm tired of the police being blamed."

"I'm not going to be a Gabby Giffords," Norman told The (Charleston) Post and Courier, referring to the former Arizona congresswoman who was shot in an assassination attempt near Tucson, Ariz., in 2011.

Norman was largely denounced on social media, including by Giffords' husband, Mark Kelly, the Navy combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut.

"When I think of @GabbyGiffords, I think of courage and public service, not intimidating constituents," Kelly tweeted. "You’re no Gabby, @RepRalphNorman."



Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter, Jaime, was among those murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in February, called Norman "a miserable human being."

"Imagine if a black guy in a hoodie did this," tweeted former S.C. congressional candidate Tom Adams. "He’d be dead right now. You’re so very wrong @RepRalphNorman."

Some social media commentators backed Norman.

"Surprised every Member doesn’t have a concealed carry permit following Rep. Scalise shooting," tweeted Jason Miller, CNN political commentator and former Trump for President communications adviser. "Rarely do these men and women have any security."

"So not only do hysterical anti-gun liberals not understand guns are inanimate objects, they don’t know the definition of 'brandish,' " tweeted S.C. GOP chairman Drew McKissick.

Most, however, blasted Norman.

"Someone please tell me this guy has an opponent I can send my $5 to," tweeted a teacher and mom named K Johnson.

"Sorry, Ralph Norman," tweeted a teacher from Texas. "My SUPERHERO is Gabby Giffords. And you are no GABBY GIFFORDS!"

And former CNN talk show host Piers Morgan weighed in on Twitter, calling Norman "a monumental" expletive.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067; @jmarusak
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