With the debate surrounding the Second Amendment sparking across the nation, you would be hard-pressed to find someone without an opinion on the matter. Recent events, such as the Parkland school shooting, have caused gun policies to once again enter the public discourse, fueled by the mass media coverage. At such a delicate time in the discussion, it is important for those in the spotlight who support the Second Amendment to stand firm and competent in their views. They must learn to fight in support of their beliefs while not giving opponents any openings to undermine them.
South Carolina’s Rep. Ralph Norman, however, failed to effectively illustrate his opinion last week. While hosting an event at a diner in Rock Hill, South Carolina, Norman was confronted by a pro-gun control advocacy group, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. During the meeting, Norman drew his weapon and laid it on the table in order to prove a point concerning gun safety.
According to reports, Norman, who has a concealed carry permit, informed the attendants at the event that the gun was in fact loaded, though pointed away from all individuals. Although the dialogue continued, with Norman holstering his weapon after a few minutes, some attendants stated they felt unsafe, the opposite of the point he attempted to illustrate.
As a supporter of gun rights, I can frankly say Norman went about reinforcing his point in an irresponsible and unreasonable manner. It was incredibly ill-advised to draw a weapon in such a public context while engaging in dialogue with members opposed to such rights. While Norman was within his legal rights to carry such a weapon, pulling it out and displaying it was foolish and contradictory to proper etiquette.
He had no valid reasons to do so, as no danger was present. Drawing his weapon for the sole purpose of highlighting his stance that guns are only dangerous when they are in the hands of criminals was inadequate and senseless reasoning. His actions were those of one who seemed in pursuit of intimidation and control. Though he supports gun rights, his stunt did nothing to help the cause and instead provided ammunition against himself for those who oppose him.
Though he has justifiably received backlash from his actions, Norman stated that he still intends to repeat the gesture in future meetings to continue to fortify his stance. Norman even went as far as declaring he had no intention to become a “Gabby Giffords,” a reference to the Arizona congresswoman who was shot in 2011 during a public appearance. Such comments after his asinine actions are distasteful and unwarranted given the situation. Instead of accepting responsibility, he opted for unsavory justification involving an incident that does not aid his cause.
It is one thing to practice one’s constitutional rights, but it is another to undermine the importance of those rights in pursuit of short-sighted goals to express a point.