The House of Representatives on Wednesday held a hearing on gun violence in America in the wake of the recent massacres in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas. Law enforcement officials, doctors, and parents testified about the string of mass shootings with one clear message: Congress needs to do something about guns in America.
The most powerful testimony, however, may have come from Miah Cerrillo, a fourth grader at Robb Elementary who covered herself in her friend’s blood to avoid being killed by the shooter in Uvalde. Cerrillo described how her and her friends tried to hide, how the shooter told her teacher “goodnight” before shooting her in the head, and how she watched her friend get shot. “I thought he would come back to the room, so I grabbed blood and put it all over me,” she said before noting that she grabbed her teacher’s phone and called 911 for help.
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“I don’t want it to happen again,” Cerrillo added.
Cerrillo’s wasn’t the only gut-wrenching testimony on Wednesday. Roy Guerrero, a doctor who treated some of the victims in Uvalde, choked up as he recounted the experience in graphic detail, something he said “no prayer could ever relieve.”
“Two children whose bodies had been pulverized by bullets fired at them, decapitated, whose flesh had been ripped apart, that the only clue to their identities was the blood-splattered cartoon clothes still clinging to them, clinging for life and finding none,” he said. “I could only hope these two bodies were a tragic exception to the list of survivors, but as I waited there with my fellow Uvalde doctors, nurses, first responders, and hospital staff, for other casualties we hoped to save, they never arrived. All that remained were the bodies of 17 more children and the two teachers who cared for them.”
Zeneta Everhart, the mother of a 21-year-old injured in the Buffalo shooting, also described the damage an AR-15 can inflict in graphic detail. “Let me paint a picture for you,” she said. “My son Zaire has a hole in the right side of his neck, two on his back and another on his left leg. Caused by an exploding bullet from an AR-15. As I clean those wounds I can feel pieces of that bullet in his back.”
Everhart called for Congress to take action on guns. “You are elected because you have been chosen and are trusted to protect us, but let me say here today, I do not feel protected,” she said. “No citizen needs an AR-15.”
Republicans have responded to mass shootings by arguing that the nation needs more, not fewer, guns. Lawmakers have leaned on the well-worn line that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, and that schools should be fortified with armed guards and armed teachers. They’ve ignored the fact that an armed guard, Aaron Salter, was present at the grocery store in Buffalo, and that scores of law enforcement officers responded to the shooting in Uvalde, only to refrain from taking action.
Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia reminded Congress of all of this on Wednesday. “It is often said that a good guy with a gun will stop a bad guy with a gun,” he said. “Aaron was a good guy, and was no match for what he went up against: a legal AR-15 with multiple high-capacity magazines. He had no chance. Assault weapons like the AR-15 are known for three things: how many rounds they fire, the speed at which they fire those rounds, and body count. This radicalized 18-year-old adult should never had been able to have access to the weapons he used to perpetrate this attack, and laws need to be enacted to ensure it never happens again.”
Republicans have steadfastly refused to support common-sense gun control measures in the wake of the shootings, including laws preventing teenagers from accessing AR-15-style rifles which are designed specifically to kill human beings. The party has instead leaned on ludicrous arguments proving they simply do not care about children being slaughtered if preventing these shootings from happening means restricting access to lethal weapons. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), a member of GOP leadership, on Wednesday morning even tried to counter calls for gun reform by pointing out that airplanes weren’t banned after 9/11.
Scalise and his Republican colleagues are clearly not serious about protecting America’s children from gun violence, and they clearly do not care what the families of victims have to say. They care about guns and they money they get from the gun lobby, as the family Lexie Rubio, a 10-year-old who was killed in Uvalde, is well aware. “Today we stand for Lexie and as her voice we demand action,” Kimberly Rubio said during the hearing on Wednesday. “We seek a ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines. We understand that for some reason, to some people with money, to people who fund political campaigns, that guns are more important than children.”
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