WASHINGTON – Braddock Heights resident Marguerite Wilson remembers the ride to work was uneventful — even boring — until her neighbor turned down a dirt road and lifted a handgun to her left temple.
“Terror, complete terror is the only thing I can remember,” said Wilson, now 49, of the incident.
She only managed to escape what she believes would have been her rape and murder almost three decades ago when her neighbor pulled over to let another car pass, giving her the chance to get out and wave down a passing truck.
“I jumped out of the car preferring to be shot in front of witnesses rather than alone,” she said.
That incident, almost three decades ago on a rural Tennessee road, spurred Wilson to join the Million Mom March for gun control last year. It also brought her to the Capitol on Tuesday as one of the featured speakers at a news conference hosted by the Million Mom March to continue the push for gun-control laws.
The “moms” group is pushing for handgun registration, consumer-product safety standards for guns and more stringent background and licensing checks, among other measures.
The rally also featured the release of a list of gun-control votes by members of Congress. The scorecard, compiled by Handgun Control Inc., found most of Maryland’s 10-member congressional delegation supported gun-control measures. It lauded six representatives and both Maryland senators who voted with the gun- control group on most of the 16 votes that were measured.
Reps. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Frederick, and Robert Ehrlich, R-Timonium, were the exceptions in Maryland, voting against the gun-control group in every instance in which they were present.
“Roscoe Bartlett is very bad on this issue. . .he’s terrible,” said Michael Barnes, a former Maryland congressman who is now president of Handgun Control Inc.
A spokeswoman for Bartlett did not challenge the scorecard, but said he was probably singled out for criticism by Barnes because of the Western Maryland Republican’s conservative stance.
Sallie Taylor, the spokeswoman, repeated gun advocates’ assertion that education and enforcement of existing laws would do more to prevent gun violence than enacting gun-control measures. She said Bartlett would welcome Barnes’ support in implementing a National Rifle Association gun-safety youth program in Maryland schools.
But at the Capitol, all the talk was about making the gun-control fight a national campaign, and targeting those lawmakers who stood in the way.
Barnes echoed the call for national gun control, particularly laws aimed at eliminating the “gun-show loophole”: Gun-control advocates claim the ease of buying and selling rifles and pistols at these shows is a major factor in gun violence.
Rep. James Moran, D-Virginia, emphasized the need for national legislation to prevent the spread of guns from states with “weaker” laws to those with stricter gun-control regulations. He also warned against what he called the corrupting influence of the gun lobby and compared the fight to “a battle between good and evil, between the lives of our children and corporate profit.”
NRA spokesman Bill Powers said “name-calling, hyperbole and wild accusations” by gun-control advocates does little to solve the problem of gun violence. He reiterated the NRA’s belief in strong parenting and values, but vowed the gun lobby would “continue to stand for the rights of law-abiding people to own a firearm.”
But for Wilson, the debate goes beyond a question of rights to a question of life and death.
“I was incredibly lucky to survive that trip unharmed. Now I have the responsibility to give the gift of life,” she said.