On Wednesday, Gayle Trotter of the Independent Women’s Forum testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in a gun control hearing about the proposed assault weapons ban. Trotter, a lawyer and pro-gun rights activist, argued that “guns make women safer” and a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines would put women at a disadvantage.
Trotter told the dramatic story of an 18-year-old mother named Sarah McKinley who killed an intruder with a shotgun when he tried to break into her home where she was with her infant son. Though Trotter’ story about McKinley is very true—she failed to mention that the young mother shot and killed the intruder with a Remington 870 Express shotgun—a gun that would not be banned under the proposed assault weapons statute. This lead to a contentious exchange with Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, and later in the day, a challenge from MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell.
MSNBC’s The Last Word reached out to Sarah McKinley to get her thoughts on Trotter’s testimony and whether she thinks an assault weapons ban would in fact put women at risk of not being able to defend themselves from an attack or home invasion. In a phone conversation Thursday, McKinley made it clear that she was not in favor of any gun control. But she said of assault rifles that she “personally has no use for one and doesn’t own one.” She also supports background checks on gun sales. McKinley, who will not be charged in the New Year’s Eve shooting at her home, had no problem with Trotter’s use of her story, although she didn’t know ahead of time that her experience would be discussed.