Gun-toting congressman is right. He's no Gabby Giffords

Steven Lubet is the Williams Memorial Professor at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.

(CNN)Here's a satirical look at an event that made news this weekend.

First-term US Rep. Ralph Norman, R-South Carolina, is a tough, vigilant and well-prepared guardian of public security, which he recently demonstrated by pulling out his loaded handgun at a "coffee with constituents" meeting at the Rock Hill Diner in his home district.
He slapped the .38-caliber Smith & Wesson on the table to let the folks in the restaurant know that they were safe from terrorists, active shooters, clumsy busboys and anyone trying to skip out on the lunch tab, assuring them that he would be able to protect them because of his gun.
    "Given the scenario that if someone had walked into that diner and began to fire a weapon, I told them I would be able to defend myself and them as well," he said.
    Steven Lubet
    "I'm not going to be a Gabby Giffords," explained the heroic and manly Red Stater, comparing himself to the timorous female Democrat from a purple district in Arizona, who had unwisely allowed herself to be shot in the head without returning fire.
    And can there be any doubt that Norman would have been able to respond boldly to the shooting, which occurred at a "Congress on the Corner" event outside a Tucson grocery store? Surely he would have been able to draw his pistol, release the safety, assume a SWAT stance, take dead aim and plug the mentally-disturbed shooter, even after taking a bullet himself.
    After all, Norman has a South Carolina concealed weapons permit, which means, at the very least, that he obtained it after a rigorous training program -- covering storage practices, liability rules and concealment techniques, upon payment of a $50 fee -- that fully readied him to exchange fire with an assassin packing a 9mm pistol with a 33-round magazine, who was shooting indiscriminately into a crowd. The 19 people hit and six killed that day in 2011 have only themselves to blame for not being as well-armed and well-trained as Norman, who may have once fired as many as 50 rounds at stationary targets to obtain his South Carolina permit.
    "I don't mind dying, but whoever shoots me better shoot well, or I'm shooting back," Norman told a local newspaper, drawing on his courageous background in the real estate business he inherited from his father. Next to military or law enforcement experience, which Norman must have absent-mindedly neglected to include in his official biography, a career in property development is easily the best possible preparation for combat in crisis conditions. If you are locked and loaded, and don't mind dying, then the York County Home Builders Association is the right place for you.
    It would be absolutely thrilling to see Norman calmly stand his ground amid flying bullets, while taking unerring aim at a rampaging gunman. No duck and cover for him, and no chance that he would end up hitting a cowering bystander. There could be just one question: Would he shoot to kill? Or would he be satisfied by only winging his unfortunate foe? It's an election year, so I'm betting that Norman will come out staunchly in favor of using lethal force at the slightest hint of trouble.
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    "Mental health, and more importantly, a lack of morality, is the driving force behind this epidemic," Norman told CNN. And having served in the South Carolina legislature for ten years, he can proudly point to his state's standing as 44th in the Union in per capita mental health spending -- while rapidly closing in on 43rd, at less than three bucks per year behind Louisiana.
    Following the latest school shooting, Giffords called on Congress to "stand up to the gun lobby and take action to make our communities safer." Norman knows better. "I'm tired of the NRA being blamed," he said. And he is right. What we really need for the schools would be some guns on the cafeteria tables.
    So, yes, Ralph Norman got things exactly right. He is no Gabby Giffords.