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Congresswoman Diana DeGette Presides Over Gun Debate 23 Years After Her District Was Rocked By Columbine

DENVER (CBS4) - Colorado Congressman Diana DeGette is often tapped to preside over difficult debates on the House floor so it was no surprise when Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked her to manage the debate over gun safety measures. This time, however, she was chosen not only for her skilled parliamentary hand, but her own fight for gun control that began years ago.

DeGette was a freshman lawmaker in 1999 when Colorado became home to, what was then, the worst school shooting in U.S. history.

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"I know when I'm standing up there with the gavel, I'm going to be thinking about all those kids at Columbine," DeGette said prior to the debate Wednesday.

Columbine, which became part of her district in 2011, set in motion a relentless campaign for gun safety legislation. Twenty-three years - and hundreds of school shootings - later the campaign resulted in a sweeping gun safety bill.

DeGette, now a seasoned lawmaker, wielded the gavel as the House debated the measure.

"I'm sure it will be an emotional and strong debate, but it also will be, if I have anything do with it, respectful and controlled."

True to her word, DeGette kept things civil during the hours long debate, despite lawmakers deep divisions over the issue. Colorado Congressman Joe Neguse among those who made an impassioned plea, reading a statement from Tom Mauser, whose son Daniel was among those killed at Columbine.

"It's time to act and demonstrate that you give a damn about our children," Neguse read from the statement. He then added, "Tom is right. I beg my colleagues to support this common sense bill."

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The bill includes a provision spearheaded by DeGette to ban any magazine with more than 10 rounds.

"Even if you have a shooter, if you don't have a high-capacity magazine, hopefully someone will get to the shooter and stop him. I feel like I've been doing this a very long time, fighting for kids not to be victims in their schools you know. This has touched so many of us and it's time to put a stop to it."

The bill also bans bump stocks and ghost guns, raises the age to buy a semiautomatic rifle to 21, requires safe storage of guns, and cracks down on straw purchases. It passed the House 223-204, with five Republicans joining all but two Democrats in backing the measure.

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