Following the wake of the Pulse Shooting in Orlando, the Democrats in the House of Representatives staged a sit-in protest as an attempt to force their Republican counterparts into voting for stricter gun legislation. The legislation in question would ban suspected terrorists from purchasing guns, in addition to requiring universal background checks prior to the purchase of arms. Despite the attempt, the Republicans of the House failed to vote on the new legislation, and thus, barred it from passing.
But what was most notable from this protest were the impactful speeches and arguments made on both sides of the aisle throughout its duration. Among the relevant speakers, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (Democrat; Michigan) gave an especially potent speech responding to the disturbing increase in gun violence across the United States. Through emotional and personal appeals, Dingell characterizes and responds to the rhetorical situation by classifying the exigence – or the social defect — as the lack of progress surrounding the implementation of stringent gun laws by policymakers, and the amount of violence it has sanctioned.
Additionally, she addressed the various constraints in regards to the current situation, or the existing setbacks that allow the xigence to continue – namely, the Republicans lawmakers with strong ties to the National Rifle Association, who essentially call for the setbacks and lack of initiative related to gun legislation to continue. Her main audiences included the House – particularly, Republican representatives, gun owners in America, and the American population, who have some power in advocating for stricter gun laws.
Within the exigence, Congresswoman Dingell calls upon the House to look at the results of failing to pass competent gun laws. Drawing from her own harrowing childhood experiences with domestic abuse, she escribes her personal connection with victims of gun violence: “I know what it’s like to see a gun pointed at you and wonder if you are going to live. I know what it’s like to hide in a closet and pray to God, ‘Do not let anything happen to me. This immediately allows her to establish some sort of credibility while arguing for stricter gun control, as she herself understands the ramifications of being exposed to a legal (albeit dangerous and irresponsible) gun owner. She then forces the Republican and gun-owning audiences to acknowledge a truth: “I don’t want to take his gun away or anybody else’s gun.
But I lived in a ouse with a man that should not have had access to a gun. 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 was stalking somebody of domestic abuse, still own a gun. Dingell’s father – the one who often perpetrated violence in her childhood home – was an individual whose tendencies were further enabled by lax gun laws in the United States, among other things. Thus, she points out to adversaries of the new legislation that their opposition, in addition to the current lack of extensive background checks, is (and what continues to be) the actor that allows unstable individuals – much like her father – to legally obtain firearms and consequently create large-scale incidents across the nation.
With this, she places a serious responsibility on the Republican party – essentially blaming them for trauma across the nation. Indeed, she later criticizes Republican representatives on their lack of leadership and willingness to cooperate with Democratic counterparts on the subject: “How can we protect someone’s civil liberties if you won’t come to the table and have the discussion about how you keep us safe?!. we’ve got to come and figure out how we’re going to make this nation safer..
How we’re not going to let people have access to guns that shouldn’t have access to guns. And we’re not going to do it until we start to change the dialogue. ” The reprimanding language reiterates the idea that Republicans completely disregarding the current situation has and will continue to harm their constituents throughout the nation. However, within these statements, she offers a solid and seemingly simple solution, as well as a way for Republican representatives to “redeem” themselves from the harm they have created.
In short, she pleads with the opposing representatives to demonstrate a willingness to foster a roductive discussion surrounding the proposed legislation, bringing their own concerns and negotiations to the floor of the House: “.. I love my Republican friends. I have many. I love you all. Can’t you come to the table? Can’t we have a discussion? Can’t we say enough is enough? Can’t we have a vote? ” Through this, she successfully establishes that the exigence has the ability to be changed, as per definition of any rhetorical situation.
In addition to defining the exigence and its consequences, Dingell also acknowledges the constraints in giving her speech, which lies within the audience. Specifically, she accepts that ven prior to giving her speech, Republicans and gun owners view her as one of many politicians working to “take everyone’s guns away” and repeal the Second Amendment: “I don’t want to take his gun away or anybody else’s gun.. I’ve been talking about what I grew up with for many years.. People knew I didn’t like guns. But.. we have to do something.
Here, she acknowledges that while she could be considered a threat to the second amendment, her (and other Democratic representatives’) true intentions in calling for stricter legislation encompasses the safety and security of the entire nation, as pposed to solely sabotaging the personal comfort of gun owners. Her ability to empathize with the intended audiences comes from a need to gain a sense of trust: namely, assuring both representatives and gun owners that the proposed legislation will not have a negative impact as is believed.
Moreover, this serves to call upon opposing Republican representatives, as well as gun owners in general, to look past what is convenient for themselves and instead consider what is safest for the larger population. Dingell also appeals to her adversaries by mentioning her husband, who is a gun owner: “You all know how much I love John Dingell. 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 respect that. ” In addition to enhancing her own credibility, this further allows her to show Republicans that her intentions are truly for the greater good of the nation. Furthermore, it creates the idea that the responsible gun owner – such as her husband, with whom she shares a very close link – would be open to discussing stricter legislation as a safety precaution, as opposed to the outright banning of firearms in he country.
She states that while she completely respects the right to bear arms, she also urges Republican representatives and gun owners acknowledge the gravity of the situation, if they are to truly consider themselves “responsible”, law-abiding, and non-threatening. Overall, Congresswoman Dingell urges the Republican representatives of the house to adopt a sense of urgency in regards to solving the crisis on gun violence. Her characterization and response to recent events, such as the Pulse shooting, includes emotional appeals and rather blunt statements that attest to the gravity of the crisis.