Arizona state Sen. Lori Klein (R) is disputing a reporter’s claim that she aimed her loaded gun at him during an interview, instead recounting that she was asked to show her gun and the reporter got up and sat down in the gun’s sight.
Here’s what we know happened.
Richard Ruelas wrote an article for the Arizona Republic about guns in Arizona, published Sunday, that described an interview he had with Klein in June. Klein is known for bringing her loaded raspberry pink .380 Ruger into the legislative chamber — most infamously in January, two days after the Giffords shooting in Tucson, when security tried to stop her.
In the piece, Ruelas writes that during the interview in the state Senate lounge, Klein pulled out her gun and pointed it at his chest. Here’s the key exchange:
“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.
After an avalanche of criticism, Klein spoke with the Arizona Capitol Times and disputed Ruelas’s version of events:
“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.
Klein put out a statement Monday that called the story a part of “a media feeding frenzy that is driven by a few individuals who never miss the opportunity to advance an anti-2nd Amendment agenda.”
The statement also described how she checked the chamber and demonstrated the laser sight away from the photographer, but didn’t mention whether the reporter had sat down in front of her.
Ruelas recounted his version of events to the Republic on Monday: “She had (the gun) out, and I looked down and saw the red dot on my chest.”
“He said he didn’t ask Klein to demonstrate the gun’s laser feature, nor did he realize until much later in his interview that her gun was loaded, after she told him it always was,” the Republic reports. Ruelas added that he learned the gun was loaded when he was recounting the earlier part of the interview for his photographer, who inquired about the laser. Klein then demonstrated it on the wall.
This account of the second demonstration squares with an audio recording the Republic published Tuesday, on which Ruelas, Klein, and the photographer can be heard.
The Republic notes that Klein never contacted them to dispute the account reported in the initial piece.