Family members of the victims of mass shootings, including Buffalo and Uvalde, testified in Congress on Wednesday during a hearing on gun violence with the Committee on Oversight and Reform.
Zeneta Everhart, mother of 21-year-old Zaire Goodman who was injured in the Buffalo mass shooting, was the first to speak to lawmakers.
Everhart said domestic terrorism existed in the country due to the country’s historical nature, a white-washed education system, and guns.
“My ancestors, the first currency of America were stripped of their heritage and culture, separated from their families, bargained for on auction blocks, sold, beaten, raped and lynched,” Everhart. “Yet I continuously hear after every mass shooting that this is not who we are as Americans and as a nation. Hear me clearly, this is exactly who we are.”
Everhart said her son was shot in the neck, back and left leg.
“As I clean his wounds, I can feel pieces of that bullet in his back,” Everhart said. “Shrapnel will be left inside his body for the rest of his life.”
The grieving mother called on Congress to pass stricter gun laws and said those who resisted should be voted out of office.
Roy Guerrero, a pediatrician who was present at Uvalde Memorial Hospital on the day of the shooting, said he will never forget what he saw.
“I raced to the hospital to find parents outside yelling children’s names in desperation and sobbing as they begged for any news related to their child,” Guerrero said. “Those mothers’ cries I will never get out of my head.”
As Guerrero made his way to the surgical area of the hospital, he said he saw two deceased children whose bodies had been “pulverized” and “decapitated” by bullets.
“The only clue as to their identities was the blood-splattered cartoon clothes still clinging to them, clinging for life and finding none,” Guerrero 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.”
Guerrero said politicians were failing Americans out of stubbornness or passivity, or both.
“Once the blood is rinsed away from the bodies of our loved ones, and scrubbed off the floors of the schools and supermarkets and churches,” Guerrero said, “the carnage from each scene is erased from our collective consciousness and we return again to nostalgia, to the rose-tinted view of our Second Amendment as a perfect instrument of American life no matter how many lives are lost.”
Miah Cerrillo, a fourth grade student at Robb Elementary School who survived the shooting by smearing her friend’s blood all over her body, detailed the harrowing experience in a video testimony to Congress.
Cerrillo said she wanted to feel safe at school and feared that something similar could happen again.
Miguel Cerrillo, Miah’s father, said the traumatic shooting changed his daughter.
“Thank y’all for letting me be here and speak out, but I wish something would change, not only for our kids but for every single kid in the world because schools are not safe anymore,” he said. “Something needs to really change.”
Felix Rubio and Kimberly Rubio lost their 10-year-old daughter Lexi Rubio at the Robb Elementary School shooting.
“I left my daughter at that school and that decision will haunt me for the rest of my life,” said Kimberly Rubio.
The family described the scramble between hospitals and the school to find news of their daughter.
“We don’t want you to think of Lexi as just a number,” her mother said. “She was intelligent, compassionate and athletic. She was quiet, shy — unless she had a point to make.”
“So today we stand for Lexi and as her voice we demand action,” Rubio said. “We seek a ban on assault rifles and high capacity magazines. We understand that for some reason, to some people, to people with money and people that fund political campaigns, that guns are more important than children. So at this moment we ask for progress, we seek to raise the age to purchase these weapons from 18 to 21 years of age, we seek red flag laws, stronger background checks, we also want to repeal gun manufacturer’s liability immunity.”
“Somewhere out there, there is a mom listening to our testimony thinking I can’t even imagine their pain, not knowing that our reality will one day be hers, unless we act now,” Rubio said.