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Klein Denies Pointing Gun at Reporter

By Howard Fischer

Phoenix, AZ – The incident occurred last month when the Arizona Republic's Richard Ruelas did an interview with Lori Klein in the lounge just outside the Senate chambers. The paper is doing a series on the state and its history and relationship with firearms. Ruelas sought out Klein because, as she told Arizona Public Radio back in January, she carries a concealed weapon with her every day into the Senate.

(I believe in our Second Amendment right to do so. I believe that my responsibility is to protect myself. And I'm comfortable -- not everyone is -- I'm comfortable carrying. And so I do it all the time.)

As part of his story that ran this past weekend, Ruelas related that Klein pulled out the gun, a .380 Ruger, turned on the laser sight, and pointed it at his chest. Klein did not respond to repeated requests for an interview. But instead she released several versions of a prepared statement, one of which says that she was showing off the gun for a Republic photographer and that Ruelas sat down in the path of the gun. The newspaper refused to make Ruelas available for comment. But on Monday he told KPNX-TV which, like the Republic, is owned by media conglomerate Gannett, that there was a separate incident earlier in his interview where she pointed the gun at his chest. Sen. Steve Gallardo, who has been a foe of recent laws to ease who can carry a concealed weapon, said the incident proves why he opposes the unofficial policy by Senate President Russell Pearce which allows senators to bring loaded weapons into the building.

(Sen. Pearce is wrong when he is allowing members to carry guns in the state Capitol. The public's not allowed to carry it. And neither should be the members.)

Pearce did not return repeated phone calls. But he told Arizona Public Radio in January that he was not bothered by Klein -- or other senators -- bringing their guns into the building.

(The best thing you can do for freedom to protect yourself and others is to have good citizens that are capable of protecting themselves and others.)

Gallardo also said he wants the Senate Ethics Committee to look into the incident. But Sen Ron Gould who chairs that panel said he does not see a problem.

(I don't think it's a breach of ethics. I assume she was demonstrating the gun. She wasn't doing it out of anger or malice. I do agree that it's a violation of the first rule of gun safety, which is don't point a gun at anything you're not willing to shoot.)

And Gould said if Ruelas were truly alarmed he would have reported it to police at the time, something he did not do. Ruelas told KPNX that it never occurred to him at the time that his life might have been in danger.

(I didn't know that the gun did not have a safety. So I figured, she must know what she's doing. She wouldn't recklessly point a gun at me.)

For Arizona Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.