Bottom line, Ralph Norman’s just not cool

Norman during the meeting with constituents...

Norman during the meeting with constituents…

If you’ve seen “In the Line of Fire” as many times as I have, you’ll remember this part. Clint Eastwood and his partner are trying to track down would-be assassin John Malkovich, and are following a lead that takes them into the subculture of plastic modelers.

They’re talking to a friend of Mitch, the Malkovich character, who says see my expensive wheelchair? Mitch bought it for me. Then suddenly, he pulls out a semi-automatic handgun and says this is in case Mitch ever comes back — because he had credibly threatened his “friend’s” life.

The Secret Service agents sort of go “Whoa!” at the appearance of the gun. They do this not because they’re sissies who are afraid of firearms and other mean things. (Remember, one of them is Clint Eastwood.) They do it because there are times when it is uncool to whip out a loaded firearm, and one of those times is when you’re being interviewed by a couple of worried Secret Service agents.

Another such time is when you’re a member of Congress chatting with your constituents.

What I’m saying is that basically, Ralph Norman did a really, really uncool thing when he took out his piece and put it on the table during a meeting with voters.

He didn’t do a criminal thing — at least, not to my knowledge. And I don’t think anyone needs to have a cow over it the way Democratic Party Chair Trav Robertson is doing.

But it seems to me quite obvious that it fell way short on the cool-o-meter.

Your thoughts?


17 thoughts on “Bottom line, Ralph Norman’s just not cool

  1. Dave Crockett

    As a contemporary of Ralph Norman at Rock Hill High School back in 1971, I can’t say that his action came as a surprise to me. Ralph had had strong opinions that got him noticed back then and it would appear that he hasn’t changed.

    Maybe our esteemed attorney, Bryan, can offer an assessment of whether the action violated the state’s concealed weapon statute or whether it constituted brandishing a firearm in public.

    I would at least file it under inappropriate behavior and in really poor taste…

    1. Bryan Caskey

      Section 16-23-410 of the South Carolina Code states, in pertinent part: “It is unlawful for a person to present or point at another person a loaded or unloaded firearm.”

      He didn’t point it. So the only issue is did he “present” it?

      A case I found defining “present” in this code section states as follows, “we define the phrase ‘to present’ a firearm in section 16-23-410 as: to offer to view in a threatening manner, or to show in a threatening manner. This definition is consistent with the South Carolina Supreme Court’s analysis of presenting a firearm in Reese and Cabrera-Pena and also is in accord with the crime as it is enacted in other jurisdictions.”

      See, In the Interest of Spencer R.

      I don’t think he threatened anyone with his firearm. In fact, his entire point was to show that a firearm is an inanimate object that is not capable of firing on its own without someone to pull the trigger. While this was perhaps a ham-handed way of illustrating that point, I think it would be difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he did this in a threatening manner. His intent, while perhaps crude, was not threatening.

      I would agree with Brad. It’s uncool, but he didn’t commit a felony.

  2. Karen Pearson

    I am unimpressed. Pulling out that gun and setting it on the table would not have made me feel safer. To me his behavior is clearly saying, “See me; I’m a man. A big man. A dangerous man. See my gun! It’s a big gun. I’m not like that girly Giffords girl, who let herself get shot. I’m woulda shot that no good varmint first, ’cause I’m a man! With a gun! A big gun!” Steve Colbert or Saturday Night Live could have a field day with his words and actions. I hope they do. This whole scene would be hilarious were it not for a) a loaded gun sitting on the table, and b) his total disrespect of those who are appalled by how many children have been killed. He was simply grandstanding as a “pro gun” representitive. Well he succeeded, And considering the way he did it, we should remember this scene clearly when it comes time to vote.

    1. Barry

      He’s an idiot.

      CWP holders are required to keep their weapon concealed until needed for self defense. He violated the CWP law.

      He is irresponsible.

  3. Mr. Smith

    Norman seems to think this is a killer argument (no pun intended):

    Place gun on table, then say, “See, it just lies there. Don’t hurt nobody. Case closed.”

    Is this what passes for reasoned argument in certain circles in SC?

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Of course, someone there could have replied by picking it up, shooting everyone at the table, and then saying, “See? I couldn’t have done that with this salt shaker…”

        In other words, it’s not just another inert object…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          It’s sort of like the thing we learned in school about kinetic vs. potential energy.

          Yeah, the gun’s just lying there, but it’s jam-packed with more potential destructive energy than anything else in the room, and it’s extremely easy to convert that into kinetic. It’s designed to make that as easy as possible.

          I mean, you might argue that the building’s roof has more potential destructive energy because, if you could cause all of it to collapse instantly, you might be able to kill more people. But that would be a far harder thing to accomplish, a thing requiring more work in the physics sense of work, than using a finger to pull a trigger a few times….

        2. Mark Stewart

          Or he could have fumbled it and “accidently” fired the weapon.

          Let’s just call it what it was: A stupid move by an ignorant man.

          1. Barry

            Yep. A friend of mine, who I would consider an expert in firearms, shot part of his hand off about 4 years ago while selling a pistol to another guy. He still has nerve damage in his hand and had 2 fingers amputated.

            I consider him an expert because he had safely handled guns for 40 years, was as knowledgeable about guns as anyone I know, and has shot more guns than I care to count.

            BTW, he thinks someone doing something like Ralph did is a fool.

      2. Mr. Smith

        Its chief “virtue“ is its unique appeal to a particular demographic: the simple minded.

        Despite what the gun lobby or folks like Norman say, practically all “gun regulation” has been aimed at affecting the actions of gun purchasers/owners – PEOPLE – and not at GUNS. Many regulations specify WHO can have one and under what conditions. And even regulations and proposed regulations that directly affect firearms themselves are not directed at the GUN so much as at what the user can DO with it.

  4. bud

    I’ve resigned myself to the fact that gun violence will not change until stunts like Norman’s are broadly regarded as moronic. I don’t think we’re anywhere close to that yet. Many on the right applaud the Ralph Norman’s of the world as principled defenders of the second amendment. Once a large majority of Americans recognize that acts of violence or threats of violence only bring about more violence then things will change. These socially acceptable acts of violence include corporal punishment, capital punishment, wars against non-threatening nations, irrational defense of gun “rights”, acceptance of trophy hunting, ridiculous “action” and “war” movies and many others that have permeated our society. Ralph Norman is just the ugly tip of the iceberg in our violence obsessed society. Eventually this will change. And liberals will be in the vanguard when it does just as all positive change that occurs.

    1. Barry

      People like Ralph looked their stupid guns more than they do anything else.

      As a CWP holder who regularly target shoots for practice, what Ralph did was dumber than dumb.

      I wouldn’t even stand near a gun owner that acted like Ralph did. None of my CWP friends would either.


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