Congresswoman Makes Personal Plea for Gun Control: ‘I Know What It’s Like to Have a Gun Pointed at You’

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Representative Dingell has spoken out about her experience before.
Representative Dingell has spoken out about her experience before.Photo: Tom Williams

On Wednesday morning, Democratic lawmakers launched a sit-in to force a vote on gun-control measures, and as of early Thursday morning they show no signs of going home — Elizabeth Warren even made a Dunkin’ Donuts delivery. Throughout the sit-in, lawmakers have come up to the podium one by one to share stories of how gun violence has affected their friends, family, and the collective psyche of the country. One of the most powerful speeches of the night came from Michigan representative Debbie Dingell, who spoke to the chamber about her own experience with gun violence.

“As so many of my colleagues have talked about, we don’t focus on what’s happening every day,” she began. “We don’t focus on the daily shootings or how our young people are beginning to accept that that’s just what happens. And we don’t focus on who has access.” She went on to describe how she was threatened at gunpoint as a child:

I lived in a house with a man that should not have had a gun. I know what it’s like to see a gun pointed at you and wonder if you are going to live. And I know what it’s like to hide in a closet and pray to god, ‘Do not let anything happen to me.’ And we don’t talk about it, we don’t want to say that it happens in all kinds of households, and we still live in a society where we will let a convicted villain who was stalking somebody of domestic abuse, still own a gun.

Dingell went on to say she doesn’t want to target those who are wrongfully on the government’s “no-fly” list (one of the measures Democrats support would ban anyone on that list from purchasing a firearm). But she does want Republicans to put the bill up for a vote: “How can we protect somebody’s civil liberties if you won’t come to the table and have the discussion?”

She continued: “The point of this discussion is that we’ve got to stop spouting talking points, and we’ve got to come and figure out how we’re going to make this nation safer. And we’re not going to do it until we start to change the dialogue.”