Joanne Walker, a member of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, sat near the front of U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman’s York County town hall. She was surrounded by about a dozen other Moms Demand Action members, all wearing red T-Shirts with the group’s logo on it.
Throughout the meeting, McBride and other members asked Norman if he would support red flag laws, which would allow law enforcement or family members to petition a court to take guns away from a person who may present a danger.
His answer was the same every time.
“The devil is in the details,” Norman said. “Who we need to be getting involved are the police.”
He pointed to a police officer in the back of the room.
“Guys like (the police officer) face the end of the barrel every day that he goes out,” Norman said. “Let’s see what they think will help solve the gun violence.”
But that answer wasn’t enough.
Another Moms Demand Action member, who sat in the front row, asked Norman again if he would support red flag legislation. She said the death of York County Det. Michael Doty, who was shot and killed more than a year ago in an attack involving a domestic violence suspect, was an instance when gun control legislation could have helped.
“Sheriff Tolson told me that numerous times, they went out there and they knew this man had a shotgun,” the woman said. “They could have taken that gun, went to a judge and got that gun taken away from him and Doty may be alive today ... let’s get some common sense gun laws in this nation.”
Almost everyone in the room clapped.
“Let me say this, there’s nothing more horrible than what happened in the mass shootings,” Norman said. “If I could pass a law that would stop that — who wouldn’t? The reason people are saying they’re probably not going to support it is because they know who leads the way — Miss (Nancy) Pelosi who I am not going along with.”
“I don’t think you’re hearing me,” the woman said.
“I’m hearing exactly what you’re saying,” Norman said.
Norman said he wants to talk to law enforcement and get a better understanding of how red flag laws would work and impact police before making a decision on gun control legislation.
“You don’t do what they (law enforcement) do,” Norman said. “They put their lives on the line. And I’m not going to put my finger in the air and just pass something that does not make sense.”
York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson told The Herald Saturday he did not share information about Christian McCall, who killed Doty and injured three other officers, with the public.
“I think healthy gun debate is important right now and we need responsible and accountable laws for both gun owners and the public,” he said. “But just in reference to the McCall case, I never had a conversation regarding those types of details with anybody, in specific, anyone with the Moms Demand Action group.”
Norman also discussed other topics. Here is some of what he said.
“Donald Trump promised repeatedly to build a wall at the southern border and also promised repeatedly that Mexico would pay for,” a man in the crowd said.
The man went on to explain that President Trump’s decision to divert $3.6 million in military construction projects to fund plans to build the border wall is overriding the power of the Constitution. He asked Norman how he could support the decision.
“We’ve been invaded,” Norman said. “It’s a national security issue. He has the right to do that.”
Norman said the president’s decision is needed to protect the country.
The decision, announced by the Pentagon Wednesday, will take nearly $11 million that was designated to build a new fire station at Laurel Bay at Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort, S.C., McClatchy DC Bureau reports.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I wish it was different but the only was he knows how to do it is through executive order under the national invasion.”
Norman said he did not support the Green New Deal, which is proposed legislation aimed to address climate change. He also said he is against free college and Medicare for all because the plans would “bankrupt us.”
“The country is about broke,” he said. “And 22 trillion in debt. I mean really we don’t have an income problem. We have a spending problem.”
He said the Green New Deal, introduced by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, who is a member of a four first-term, progressive Democratic congresswomen group, known as “The Squad,” could cost $93 trillion.
“I want to ask the Squad, who I actually like, they just have dumb ideas that they don’t know what they’re talking about,” Norman said.
He said both the Green New Deal and Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All plans do not include an outlined payment plan and contribute to a growing national debt.
Norman also explained that if he were to introduce a healthcare plan, it would allow families to choose their own plans, expand Health Savings Accounts and enforce transparency with medicine.
“By the way, if I start counting 22 trillion do you know how long it would take me if you go, ‘one, two, three?’ he said. “735,000 years. I don’t think I’ll be doing another town hall by then.”
Norman will hold a town hall at 3 p.m. Saturday at Sun City Carolina Lakes in Indian Land.