The National Rifle Association honored a rape survivor who challenged President Obama on gun rights during a nationally televised town hall at the NRA’s annual convention.
Kimberly Corban described the praise from the country's largest gun rights organization as humbling.
"This is actually my first meeting and I didn't realize it was so big," she said to the gathering. "It's funny when you're in a small room with the president and a bunch of cameras you don't think beyond who I'm talking to at that time. To hear how many people that impacted and took something away from that is really, really humbling."
After announcing his plan to enact new gun control measures through executive action President Obama appeared on a CNN town hall this January. He was questioned by those who support his efforts, as well as a number of skeptics. Corban spoke up during the town hall and challenged the president, suggesting that his proposals would make it harder for her to defend herself and her family.
"As a survivor of rape and now a mother to two small children, you know, it seems like being able to purchase a firearm of my choosing and being able to carry that wherever me and my family are, it seems like my basic responsibility as a parent at this point," she said. "I have been unspeakably victimized once already, and I refuse to let that happen again to myself or my kids. So why can’t they see these restrictions that you’re putting to make it harder for me to own a gun or harder for me to take that where I need to be is actually just making my kids and I less safe?"
President Obama said he was not trying to make it harder to purchase a gun. He then said it was questionable whether or not firearms can prevent sexual violence.
"There are always questions as to whether or not having a firearm in the home protects you from that kind of violence, and I’m not sure we can resolve that," he said. "People argue it both sides. What is true is, is that you have to be pretty well trained in order to fire a weapon against somebody who is assaulting you and catches you by surprise."
Corban was a sophomore at the University of Northern Colorado when a man broke into her apartment and raped her. He was soon caught and prosecuted. Thanks to her cooperation with police and her testimony at trial, Corban's rapist was convicted and sentenced to 24 years to life in prison.
Once the trial was over Corban decided to make her story public in the hope that she might be able to help other survivors. "If I could just save one person from having to experience what I did then, everything would be worth it," she said.
Corban began training with and carrying handguns a few years after her rape, becoming politically active in 2013. Her home state of Colorado passed a number of new gun control measures in that year and Corban viewed it as an attack on her right to self-defense.
"I went down and sat in front of the senators and talked about my horrible experience and why it was I needed the right to carry," she said. "I was fine keeping to myself and carrying that firearm knowing that if I needed to use it to protect myself or my peers that I was able to do so."
Susan LaPierre, a member of the executive committee of the NRA's Women's Leadership Forum, recognized Corban during the women's luncheon at the NRA Annual Meeting on Friday. Chris Cox, the head of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, recognized her again in the group's members meeting on Saturday.