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Arizona Lawmaker, Reporter Disagree On Whether She Pointed Gun At Him

She says the reporter sat down in front of her handgun as she aimed it at a sofa.

He says she deliberately pointed the loaded firearm at his chest.

Arizona state Sen. Lori Klein (R) and Arizona Republic reporter Richard Ruelas now find themselves at the center of a story that has attracted attention across the nation.

It began with this report Sunday. Ruelas was writing about Klein's habit of carrying a loaded .380 Ruger with her at the state Capitol and said that during an interview in her office:

"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."

That passage in Ruelas story set the blogosphere buzzing, and led to a statement from Klein in which she says:

"I was asked to show the reporter my weapon so that they could take pictures of it. I ensured that the chamber was clear before displaying the weapon. That is basic gun safety and something that I do instinctively, just like virtually every gun owner.

"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.

"He noticed the light, then I noticed the light, then I turned it off."

But according to Ruelas, the weapon was aimed at him before the photographer came into the room. And he says his notes and recordings support his version of the event. The Republicadds that "at one point [on the recordings], Klein tells the photographer that she had pointed the gun at Ruelas, and Ruelas said the same thing as the two talked over each other on the tape recording."

Klein says she isn't doing interviews about what happened. Ruelas went on local TV to tell his side of the story.

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.