The House Oversight and Reform Committee will hear testimony on Wednesday in the wake of recent mass shootings that killed dozens of people.
Among the witnesses was a fourth grader who survived a mass shooting just two weeks ago at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
Democrats are hoping that the testimony will aid them in making new gun restrictions a reality.
Follow The Hill’s live coverage below:
Uvalde pediatrician says he saw children’s bodies “pulverized” beyond recognition
Uvalde, Texas, pediatrician Roy Guerrero said that he will “never forget” what he saw in the immediate aftermath of the shooting at Robb Elementary School.
Guerrero said in his testimony on Wednesday that he rushed to Uvalde Memorial Hospital immediately after the school shooting.
“I raced to the hospital to find parents outside yelling children’s name to desperation and sobbing as they begged for any news related to their child,” he said.
“Those mother’s cries I will never get out of my head,” he said.
Guerrero spoke about the chaos that ensued following the shooting and said that he had heard from some of the nurses that there were two dead children who had been moved to the surgical area of the hospital.
“What I did find was something no prayer will ever relieve: Two children, whose bodies had been so pulverized by bullets fired at them, decapitated, whose flesh had been ripped apart, that the only clue as to their identities was blood-spattered cartoon clothes still clinging to them. Clinging for life and finding none.”
He said that he had hoped, along with his fellow Uvalde doctors, nurses, first responders and hospital staff, that they would be able to save others arriving at the hospital. But he added that victims they could treat “never arrived.”
“All that remained was the bodies of 17 more children and the two teachers who cared for them.”
House Republican: Democrats ‘exploiting the pain’ of witnesses to advance ‘radical interest’
Republicans are criticizing Democrats for bringing in a Uvalde fifth-grader and parents of victims to testify at the hearing.
“You realize that today, they’re bringing an 11-year-old girl here who two weeks ago smeared herself in her classmates’ blood to try to fool the shooter in Uvalde?” Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) said in a House GOP press conference as the hearing went on. “They’re bringing in parents who two weeks ago lost their children. And they’re having them testify. And they’ve lied to them, and they’ve said, ‘If you’ll come testify, we’ll pass these bills.’”
Hudson, who is leading GOP-supported legislation to boost school security and mental health resources, noted that none of the bills being considered in the House are expected to pass in the Senate and accused Democrats of trying to do something to “change the political narrative in this election this fall.”
“They’re exploiting the pain of these people, these children, these parents, to advance their radical interest. And I say shame on them,” Hudson said. “I say to Nancy Pelosi, stop the cynical, disgusting charade. Come to the table. We are here we want to talk we want to negotiate. We want to solve this problem. We want to save children’s lives.”
Fourth grader who survived Uvalde shooting says she doesn’t feel safe in school
Miah Cerrillo, a fourth grader at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, told lawmakers in a prerecorded statement she doesn’t feel safe in school after last month’s mass shooting left 19 of her classmates and two teachers dead.
When asked if she thought the shooting would happen again, Miah, 11, nodded her head.
Miah said she hid behind her teacher’s desk when the gunman entered the classroom. The gunman proceeded to kill her teacher and told her “goodnight” before killing some of the students in the classroom, she said.
“He shot my friend that was next to me, and I thought he was going to come back to the room,” she said. “So I grabbed the blood, and I put it all over me”
When the gunman went to the adjoining classroom, Miah said she called 911.
“I told her that we need help,” Miah told lawmakers.
Local police have come under scrutiny for their decision to consider the gunman a barricaded suspect and wait in a hallway outside the classroom as students inside called 911.
Miah shook her head when asked if she felt safe in school. When asked what she wanted to change, she said “to have security.”
Mother of injured victim in Buffalo shooting calls America ‘inherently violent’
The mother of Zaire Goodman, who was shot and injured in last month’s mass shooting in Buffalo, N.Y., when a gunman deliberately targeted Black people, connected recent incidents of gun violence to America’s founding and its legacy of slavery.
“America is inherently violent,” Zeneta Everhart told lawmakers. “This is who we are as a nation. The very existence of this country was founded on violence, hate and racism, with the near annihilation of my native brothers and sisters.”
“Yet I continuously hear after every mass shooting that this is not who we are as Americans and as a nation,” she continued. “Hear me clearly, this is exactly who and what America is.”
Getting emotional at times, Everhart detailed her son’s injuries from the shooting, saying he has bullet holes on the right side of his neck, two on his back and another on his leg. Ten people were killed in the shooting and three were injured, including Goodman.
“If after hearing from me and the other people testifying here today does not move you to act on gun laws, I invite you to my home to help me to clean Zaire’s wounds so that you may see up close the damage that has been caused to my son and my community,” Everhart said.
She called on lawmakers to prevent children from gaining access to guns and prevent civilians from owning AR-15–style rifles, encouraging the public to vote out lawmakers who do not favor stricter gun laws.
“You are elected because you have been chosen and are trusted to protect us, but let me say to you here today, I do not feel protected,” she said.
Fourth grade student who survived Uvalde shooting to deliver prerecorded statement
A fourth grader who survived last month’s mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas will deliver her testimony through a prerecorded video.
House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) announced 11-year-old Miah Cerrillo, who covered herself in her friend’s blood and pretended to be dead, will be represented at the hearing in person by her father after the committee consulted with her pediatrician.
“The committee has been in close contact with Miah, her family and her pediatrician and has been prioritizing her safety and comfort first and foremost,” Maloney said in a statement.
“Her decision to record her story and share it with the American people is courageous — and I hope all Members open their hearts and minds to what she has to say,” she continued.
Maloney: ‘We are failing our children’
House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) opened Wednesday’s hearing by thanking the witnesses who have survived or lost loved ones in recent mass shootings for their “incredible courage,” calling on her colleagues to enact gun control measures.
“Gun violence is the leading cause of death for children in our country,” Maloney said. “As a society, we are failing our children and we are failing each other.”
She chastised Republicans who have blamed mental illness, violent video games and multiple school entry points for the cause of gun violence, calling the issue a “uniquely American tragedy.”
“They have blamed everything but guns,” she said. “But we know the United States does not have a monopoly on mental illness, video games or any other excuse. What America does have is widespread access to guns.”
Maloney called for a ban on assault rifles and greater accountability for the gun industry, pointing to the committee’s ongoing investigation into the manufacturing, sale and marketing of weapons that have been used in mass shootings.
She called an eight-bill gun package expected to come to a vote in the House later today as “crucial first step” to address gun violence.
“My goal for today’s hearing is simple,” Maloney said. “I am asking every member of this committee to listen with an open heart to the brave witnesses who have come forward to tell their stories about how gun violence has impacted their lives.”
Gun violence nonprofit executive to rail against gun industry in prepared remarks
Nick Suplina, the senior vice president for law and policy at Everytown for Gun Safety, plans to leverage his prepared remarks at Wednesday’s hearing to rail against the gun industry, calling for more accountability.
“There is no other way to put it: the gun industry has grown tremendously over the last two decades, business is booming, profits are breaking records,” Suplina plans to say. “And so are rates of gun violence.”
Suplina, who will appear in the hearing’s second panel of witnesses, will reference by name the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which Congress passed in 2005 to grant gun manufacturers broad immunity from lawsuits over crimes committed with their products, although the law carves out certain exceptions.
Democratic state legislatures have shown a renewed interest in holding firearms manufacturers liable for gun violence after recent mass shootings.
“The gun industry, for its part, has innovated not to make guns — or us — safer, but to make them more dangerous, more likely to evade regulation and its business more profitable,” Suplina plans to say.
He will point to the manufacture of bump stocks, devices that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire much more rapidly, and the creation of “impossible-to-trace” ghost guns, noting that more than 1 million of the industry’s firearms were recovered in connection to crimes between 2016 and 2020.
“The industry has done almost nothing to take steps to prevent diversion of guns into the criminal market and to gun traffickers,” Suplina will say.
Suplina will also criticize the sales of AR-15–style rifles, which were reportedly used in both the Uvalde shooting and a massacre at a Buffalo, N.Y., supermarket where officials say the gunman deliberately targeted Black people and killed 10.
“They have normalized the AR platform because its simplicity and modularity makes it easy for gun owners to customize their rifles or build them from scratch, necessitating a huge, profitable aftermarket for parts and accessories,” Suplina will say.