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Gun violence hearing: Chilling moments of testimony about mass shootings

Lawmakers on Wednesday heard heartbreaking and poignant testimonies from parents, a child and a pediatrician, all of whom were personally touched by the recent mass shooting — an attempt by Democrats to dramatically highlight the physical and emotional toll of gun violence.

Testimony before the House Oversight Committee came two weeks after 19 children and two teachers were shot dead in a classroom in Uvalde, Texas. This massacre was followed by several other mass shootings, including one on May 14 in Buffalo, NY that killed 10 black grocery shoppers and another at a church in Laguna Woods that killed one person and wounded five others.

The massacres have pressured lawmakers to reach a bipartisan agreement on gun restrictions and related security measures.

“I ask every member of this committee to listen with an open heart to the courageous witnesses who have come forward to share their stories of how gun violence has impacted their lives,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (DN.Y.). “Our witnesses today have endured pain and loss. Yet they are showing incredible courage by coming here to ask us to do our job.”

Here are four key moments from the hearing:

Miah Cerrillo, a fourth grade student from Uvalde, Texas, and survivor of the mass shooting, appears on a screen

Miah Cerrillo, a fourth grade student at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and a survivor of the mass shooting, appears on a screen during a House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing on gun violence.

(Jason Andrew//The New York Times, via AP)

1. An 11-year-old survivor of a shooting shared her story

Miah Cerrillo, a fourth-grader at Robb Elementary School who survived the massacre by covering herself in a classmate’s blood and pretending to be dead, described the horror she faced as an 18-year-old gunman on May 24 entered her classroom and started shooting. The gunman killed himself as police stormed the classroom.

The students watched a film until the shooter arrived, Miah said in a pre-recorded statement played at the hearing. “We wanted to hide behind my teacher’s desk,” she said. “He shot my teacher and said good night to her and shot her in the head. And then he shot some of my classmates.”

“He shot my friend who was next to me,” she said. “So I took the blood and splattered it all over me.” She shrugged and stopped. “I stayed calm. And then I grabbed my teacher’s phone and called 911.”

The 11-year-old said she didn’t feel safe at school and feared she could be the victim of another mass shooting.

After Miah spoke, her father told Miguel that Miah “isn’t the same little girl I used to play with.”

“Schools are no longer safe,” he added. “Something really needs to change”

2. A mother spoke about the loss of her daughter

Kimberly Rubio told lawmakers about the uncertainty and anxiety she felt as she awaited news of her daughter’s fate. She testified that after learning about the shooting, she walked a barefoot mile to Robb Elementary School to get news about her daughter, Lexi Rubio.

She and her husband Felix waited outside the school before going to the town’s civic center, where they received the news that Lexi had died.

That same morning, the Rubios had attended an awards ceremony for their daughter at school. Lexi received a “good citizen” award and was recognized for getting straight A’s. They had promised to buy her an ice cream as a reward.

“I left my daughter at this school and that decision will haunt me for the rest of my life,” said Kimberly, who was sitting next to Felix, as they testified via video.

“We don’t want you to think of Lexi as just a number. She was intelligent, compassionate and athletic,” Kimberly said through tears. “Today we stand for Lexi and as her voice we call for action. We demand a ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines.”

“Somewhere out there a mother is listening to our statement and thinking, ‘I can’t even imagine her pain,’ not knowing that one day our reality will be hers if we don’t act now,” she said.

Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney during the House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing on gun violence

Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney, DN.Y., displays a placard in front showing the total number of gun deaths in the United States compared to other G7 countries.

(Andrew Harnik/Associated Press)

3. A pediatrician described a gruesome scene

dr Roy Guerrero, a pediatrician and lifelong resident of Uvalde who helped treat the wounded, described to lawmakers the carnage he had witnessed. “I ran to the hospital to find parents frantically calling the children’s names and sobbing, begging for news regarding their child,” he said. “Those mother screams will never get out of my head.”

He saw Miah Cerrillo first. She was shaking and “The white Lilo and Stitch shirt she was wearing was covered in blood. Her shoulder was bleeding from the shrapnel wound,” he said.

The rest of the day was a nightmare, he said, “something no prayer can ever ease. Two children, their bodies pulverized by bullets, responded. … Her flesh had been torn asunder. The only clue to their identity was the blood-splattered cartoon clothes still hanging from them.”

He has blasted lawmakers for a lack of progress in passing gun restrictions. “In this case, you are the doctors and our country is the patient. We’re lying on the operating table, riddled with bullets like the kids at Rob Elementary and so many other schools,” he said. “We’re bleeding out and you’re not there.”

4. The legislature remains at a standstill when it comes to solutions

Lawmakers erupted throughout the hearing, signaling the lack of consensus on how to proceed. Democrats have called for universal background checks, red flag legislation, raising the legal age to purchase guns and a total ban on assault weapons. Republicans, on the other hand, said it would be more effective to increase school safety and focus on improving mental health care.

In Congress, a bipartisan group of senators has attempted to reach a modest compromise on gun legislation after a decade of mostly failed efforts.

President Biden last week urged Congress to implement “healthy” reforms to curb gun violence. In a 17-minute speech, he called for specific action, including expanded background checks and the passage of red-flag laws that would confiscate firearms from anyone deemed a danger to themselves or others. He also called for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2022-06-08/gun-violence-hearing-chilling-moments-as-uvalde-residents-testify Gun violence hearing: Chilling moments of testimony about mass shootings

Alley Einstein

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