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Indian-American Governor guns for weapons manufacturer

July 23, 2013 12:03 am | Updated 12:04 am IST - Washington

Ever seen a smartly-attired Indian-American lady blasting off a massive military-style rifle? Well now you have your chance to grab a quick look — providing YouTube is not blocked by your office network — and the lady in question is none other than South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.

In a video and series of photo stills that went viral on Facebook this week Ms. Haley, who is the daughter of Punjabi-Sikh immigrants and whose full maiden name is Nimrata Nikki Randhawa, can be seen shooting what appears to be a large M-249 Light Machine Gun made by South Carolina firm FN Manufacturing.

Touring the factory Ms. Haley can be heard saying in the video, “I did get a chance to fire a gun — a few, quite a few — and it was a good time, a good stress relief, and I did it in heels!” The video also shows her shooting a pistol and rifle, possibly an M4 Carbine, which the Governor said FN Manufacturing made.

The focus of her visit to the gun-maker’s shop floor was to tout job creation and economic growth in her state, in particular to “celebrate another one of our manufacturing [firms]... A source of pride... for South Carolina and for the country.” She added that the experience for her this was “particularly personal because they manufacture the M-4s, the M-240s, the M-249s, all of which [her husband] Michael is using right now in Afghanistan.”

During her tour Governor Haley noted that the fact that South Carolina, a conservative state that has mostly seen Republican administrations since the late 1990s, has got a lot of manufacturers interested in locating production facilities in the state, “whether they’re gun-related or not,” spoke highly for the state.

Yet this is not the first time a South Carolina gun manufacturer has grabbed media attention: earlier this year another firm, PTR Industries, announced that it would quit Connecticut and relocate to South Carolina after gun control legislation was passed in the wake of last December’s Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Ms. Haley’s video also comes close on the heels of a visceral national debate on guns and race after a Florida jury acquitted George Zimmerman on second-degree murder charges for killing African-American Trayvon Martin (17).

In the past Ms. Haley has been quoted saying that she did not believe that passing new legislative restrictions upon the sale of weapons would curb gun violence, but that the country does need to boost spending on mental health programs overall.

When, during her 2010 run for the gubernatorial post Ms. Haley won the endorsement of the Gun Owners of America, a pro-gun-rights lobby, she said at the time, “Few things are as clearly defined as the right of individual Americans to own and use firearms,” adding that she held a Concealed Weapons Permit herself and as Governor would “continue to fight against any government infringement on the Second Amendment [guaranteeing Americans’ right to bear arms].”

Regardless of her views on the matter her Facebook fans appeared ecstatic in their congratulatory messages to their governor over the gun-firing.

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