As Congressional candidate Archie Parnell talked Wednesday night to members of Moms Demand Action in Tega Cay, the topic of gun laws dominated.
Parnell, a Democrat, told the group it's clear gun laws will be an important issue in the November election. He said he knew he needed to speak about "common-sense" gun reform.
"You cannot run a race without doing the right thing and being able to look in the mirror," he said.
The group recognized Parnell, one of four Democratic challengers hoping to face 5th District U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman, R-Rock Hill, after the June primary, with their "gun sense candidate" distinction.
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The other Democratic challengers are Mark Ali, Sidney Moore and Steve Lough. Another candidate, Michael Chandler, is with the Constitution Party.
Several members of the group attended an April 6 morning meet-and-greet with Norman in Rock Hill to ask him to support changes in gun laws. Part of Norman's response was to place a loaded gun on a table at the Rock Hill restaurant.
Norman told The Herald later that he was making the point that guns by themselves don't pose danger, saying "guns don't shoot, people shoot."
"I'm just tired of the guns being blamed," Norman told The Herald later that day. "I'm tired of the NRA being blamed. I'm tired of the police being blamed."
Efforts to obtain comment Thursday from Norman were unsuccessful.
Lori Freemon, a Moms Demand Action member, and one of the women at Norman's meet-and-greet, took a moment Wednesday night to recognize S.C. Sen. Greg Gregory, R-Lancaster, who she said has been supporting common-sense gun reform.
"He's been proving that this isn't us against them," she said. "This is us fighting for them — them being our children."
Freemon spoke briefly about her encounter with Norman, who called the moms group "radical" in a Facebook post after the meet-and-greet.
"It's not radical to want background checks, which 97 percent of Americans support," Freemon said. "It's not radical to expect reasonable limits on where and when people can carry."
Parnell said Norman's post calling the group radical was "disturbing."
Parnell said it's disappointing when "the other side" assumes groups like Moms Demand Action want to repeal the Second Amendment.
"That's not what anyone's saying," Parnell said.
Parnell said he would have several priorities if elected, including making sure the tax code is "more fair," reworking the healthcare system and finding solutions to immigration issues.
Parnell lost to Norman in 2017's special election by 3 percentage points, one of the closest Congressional elections in South Carolina in 20 years.
"We came a lot closer than people thought we would," Parnell said. "They thought this was a safe Republican seat."
Parnell said it is important to register new voters and encourage everyone to vote.
"We are more alike than we are different, and we just have to emphasize that," Parnell said.