WASHINGTON -- For Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), being a victim of a mass shooting is not a theoretical idea.
She survived one, and on Thursday used her experience to drive home the point of the Democrats' ongoing sit-in on the House floor, which they have staged to try to force the House to take a pair of votes and begin curbing gun violence.
Speier was nearly killed on the day of the Jonestown massacre in 1978. Members of a cult attacked the delegation she was part of as a congressional aide investigating abuses of the group in Guyana.
Her boss, Rep. Leo Ryan (D-Calif.), and four others died in the shooting. Speier was shot five times. When help arrived 22 hours later, she had at least one of the dumdum bullets still in her.
She brought that bullet, still in its FBI evidence bag, with her to the House floor. She explained that she had never showed the grim trophy in public before, but that she had brought it with her when she flew back to Washington on an overnight flight.
She wanted to dramatize what her party's sit-in was about -- trying to finally get a vote on bills to limit potential terrorists' access to weapons and close loopholes in the background check system. Small steps, but ones that seem to require an all-out, historic protest in the United States Congress.
"This was taken from my body," Speier said, speaking some 22 hours after Democrats launched their sit-in.
"Five bullets ripped through my body. I can’t begin to tell you what that is like," Speier said. "I can tell you what it’s like to live with a disfigured body the rest of your life. I can tell you that this dumdum and my disfigured body are things that remind me each and everyday why what do here now is so important."
Watch her speak in the video above.