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Rep. Dingell's fiery midnight speech detailing her own experience with gun violence

Jun 23, 2016

Of the hundreds of legislators who spoke as they occupied the House chamber last night in a historic sit-in to protest Congressional inaction on gun control, it may have been the words of Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., that made the biggest impact. 

"I lived in a house with a man who should not have had access to a gun," Dingell said in a passionate address delivered at roughly 12:25 a.m.

"I know what it's like to see a gun pointed at you and wonder if you were  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.' 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 felon who is stalking someone, [guilty] of domestic abuse, still own a gun." 

Watch the congresswoman's speech here: 

Full video is available here

Before she ran for the seat previously held by her husband John Dingell, who retired from the House in 2014 after serving for 59 years, Debbie Dingell wrote about how gun violence has impacted her personally in a 2012 Washington Post op-ed.

"When I was about to start the eighth grade, my father almost shot my mother. It was another of their many ugly fights. I got between them -- literally -- and tried to grab the gun." 

Dingell went on to write about her relationship with her husband and stepson, who she referred to as "two of the most responsible, safety-conscious gun owners anyone could ever know." 

Last night, Dingell picked up where she left off in the op-ed, describing how John Dingell's gun ownership and steadfast belief in the right to bear arms has influenced her. 

"You all know how much I love John Dingell," the congresswoman said. "He's the most important thing in my life. And yet for 35 years, there's been a source of tension between the two of us. He is a responsible gun owner. He believes in the Constitution. I don't want to take his gun away, or anybody else's gun."

The sit-in came as Democrats attempted to bring to a vote legislation they referred to as "No Fly, No Buy." The bill would block firearms sales to those on the nation's "no fly" list - a subset of a list of suspected terrorists maintained by the U.S. Attorney General's office.

Republican legislators have said the measure could violate the right to due process for some innocent prospective gun buyers.

Some House Democrats also discussed more comprehensive measures during the sit-in, like universal background checks, closing the 'gun-show loophole' and banning or restricting access to military-style assault weapons.