Lori Klein is one of the most passionate defenders of the right to carry a gun wherever one sees fit. But she also created a sea of bad publicity for gun rights advocates when, during an interview with a journalist about her pro-gun positions, she pointed her loaded handgun at the journalist’s chest. The gun had no safety, but she told him not to worry, because her hand wasn’t on the trigger.
Klein, a Republican Arizona state senator, got in trouble earlier this year when, two days after the Gabrielle Giffords shooting, she carried a gun to the legislature’s joint opening session. She was showing Arizona Republic reporter Richard Ruelas her raspberry-pink handgun, in the Senate lounge, when she decided to show off the laser sighting by pointing it at Ruelas. ”Oh, it’s so cute,” she reportedly told Ruelas, taking the loaded .380 Ruger out of her purse.
Ruelas claimed that she then aimed the gun at his chest. Klein, however, denies that she pointed the gun at Ruelas. She said that, at a photographer’s request, she pointed it at the wall, and as the laser beam came on, Ruelas walked over to the sofa and sat down, placing himself in the line of fire. ”He noticed the light, then I noticed the light, then I turned it off,” she said in a statement. Klein also denied that the gun was loaded.
Ruelas, however, says that the gun was aimed at him before the photographer even came into the room, and he has recordings of the incident, in which Klein tells a photographer, laughing, that she had aimed it at Ruelas.
Unsurprisingly, gun rights advocates are unhappy with Klein’s actions, which demonstrate just how irresponsible gun owners can be. ”Any time when you have an incident that is embarrassing or perceived to be life-threatening by the general public this hurts the cause because it puts all gun owners in a bad light,” said Terry Allison, a gun-safety instructor and former president of the Arizona State Rifle and Pistol Association. “People are afraid when they see someone carrying a gun because they’re afraid it might be pointed at them.”
Indeed they are, and with good reason. And although people like Allison may try to paint this as an isolated incident, it’s clear that Klein sees herself as a spokesperson for gun rights. The fact that she still didn’t bother to follow the basic principles of gun safety while she sitting just feet from the state Senate chamber does not speak well of the other gun owners’ willingness and ability to handle guns responsibly, especially as gun rights advocates try to make guns available to as many people as possible.
Photo from another_finn via flickr.