The Time a Reporter Ended Up in the Sights of a Lawmaker's Gun

She disputes the details that she pointed her rasperry-pink handgun at a reporters chest

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Arizona State Sen. Lori Klein now says that pointing a loaded, rasperry-pink handgun at an Arizona Republic reporter's chest wasn't deliberate. But her side of the story doesn't align with what Richard Ruelas reported in the Republic after interviewing the lawmaker. Here's how it began: This Sunday, the newspaper published an account seemingly intended to clarify why Klein brought her handgun into the state capitol building only two days after the Tucson shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in January (her answer at the time: "I didn't think it was an issue"). During the recent interview, she brought the gun in question out from its case to show the Republic reporter, and here's what happened according to Ruelas:

"Oh, it's so cute," Klein said, as she unzipped the loaded Ruger from its carrying case to show a reporter and photographer. She was sitting on a leather couch in a lounge, just outside the Senate chamber. She showed off the laser sighting by pointing the red beam at the reporter's chest. The gun has no safety, she said, but there was no need to worry. "I just didn't have my hand on the trigger," she said.

Naturally, internet outrage ensued and the lawmaker pushed back. She shared her side of the story in an email with The Arizona Capitol Times, saying that Ruelas actually stepped into the laser sight willingly:

"The photographer, who was behind me at the time, asked me to show him the laser sight and I did so, turning it on and shining it on the wall in front of me (away from the photographer). During this demonstration, the reporter came and sat down in the sofa in front of me, placing himself in the line of the laser sight," Klein said. "He noticed the light, then I noticed the light, then I turned it off.  I apologized and let him know that he was safe because I keep my finger out of the trigger guard.  Again, that is basic gun safety," she added.

In response to the incident--again, not the first time the Sheriff Joe Arpaio-endorsed lawmaker was involved in a handgun controversy--the Republic wrote a follow-up account quoting Democratic Sen. Steve Gallardo, who flatly stated: "Lori Klein is the poster child of someone who should not be in possession of a firearm."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.