Debbie Dingell reveals mentally ill father in fiery gun control speech

February 28, 2019 GMT

Rep. Debbie Dingell told colleagues Thursday her father had a mental illness and a gun and said it made her fear for her life when she was a child.

The Michigan Democrat made the revelation on the floor of the House, urging lawmakers to vote for a bill to block firearms purchases until FBI background checks are fully completed, and to vote against a GOP amendment to allow abuse victims to get firearms under the old rules.

She said her father was a gun owner, and mentally ill, and it was a bad combination.

“I had to hide in that closet with my siblings wondering if we would live or die,” she said. “He shouldn’t have had a gun.”

Under current rules, the FBI has a set period of time three days to complete the background check. If all questions can’t be resolved in time, yet the FBI can’t legally deny the purchase, the firearm must be allowed to be sold.

House Democrats have crafted a bill that would extend the time the FBI has to complete the checks to 10 days, with another 10-day extension allowed.

Supporters of the bill point to the 2015 shooting at a church in Charleston as the evidence of what can happen under the current system.

Dylann Roof was able to buy a gun despite a criminal record that should have prevented him from making the purchase. The FBI blamed messy paperwork for preventing them from spotting the drug conviction on his record.

Without that, they were unable to flag the sale as illegal, and the purchase went through.

Criminal convictions are just one of a dozen categories that can block purchases. Others include mental health problems, domestic violence accusations, or being an illegal immigrant.

Opponents say lengthening the three-day waiting period cuts into gun-buyers Second Amendment rights and could leave some people without needed protection.

The GOP offered an amendment to at least let people who fear domestic abuse get their firearms within the three-day period.

That’s when Ms. Dingell took to the floor to detail her story.

She said her mother responded to her father’s abuse by buying her own gun, to match her husband.

“And then all of us were scared of her gun and my father’s gun,” she said.

Her speech rallied Democrats, who defeated the GOP’s domestic violence carve-out on a near-party-line vote.

The overall bill then passed, again on a near-party-line vote, 228-198.