PHOENIX - A first-term state lawmaker denied Monday she deliberately pointed a loaded gun at a newspaper reporter during an interview last month at the state Senate.
Sen. Lori Klein, R-Anthem, admitted in a statement she took her .380 Ruger out of its carrying case during an interview with Arizona Republic reporter Richard Ruelas during an interview in the lounge outside the Senate chamber.
But Klein, who refused to comment beyond her written statement, said she took the gun out for the benefit of the photographer who wanted to see it and its laser sight. She said Ruelas sat down in the path of the laser.
The Republic refused to make Ruelas available. But he told KPNX-TV which, like the Republic, is owned by Gannett, there was a separate incident, earlier in the interview, where she pointed the gun at his chest.
Ruelas said he did not think much of what had occurred at the time of the June interview, and mentions it only briefly in a larger story published Sunday on Klein carrying her weapon into the building.
The story resurrected a debate over an unofficial policy that allows senators, but no one else, to carry their weapons into the building.
Senate President Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, did not return calls for comment. But Pearce said in January he was not troubled by Klein, or others, being armed in the Senate.
Klein has never been shy about bringing the weapon into the Senate.
"I believe that my responsibility is to protect myself," she said in January, just days after taking office.
"I'm comfortable carrying," Klein continued. "And I had no intention of creating any concern."
In his story, Ruelas said the gun Klein pulled out has no safety, but she told him not to worry. He said she assured him her hand was not on the trigger.
He did not file a police report or complain to Senate officials.
Klein, in her statement, denied doing anything improper.
"I ensured that the chamber was clear before displaying the weapon," she wrote. Klein also said she pointed the gun at the wall.
Ruelas, in his TV interview, said it did not occur 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," he said. "I figured she must know what she's doing.
"She wouldn't recklessly point a gun at me, so I did not feel in any danger," he said.
Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix, has called for the incident to be investigated by the Senate Ethics Committee. But Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City, who chairs the panel, said Klein's actions, while possibly reckless, did not violate any Senate rules.