'I don't want it to happen again': Texas girl shooting survivor testifies in Congress

‘I don’t want it to happen again’: Texas girl shooting survivor testifies in Congress

“I don’t want it to happen again,” an 11-year-old girl, a survivor of the New York City elementary school shooting, implored Congress on Wednesday.

Miah Cerrillo, who described how she smeared herself with the blood of a murdered classmate so the 18-year-old who opened fire in her classroom would think she was dead, too, said she no longer felt safe at the school, during a hearing on firearms regulation in the United States.

Cerrillo, a fourth grader at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, recounted her ordeal when 19 of her classmates and two teachers were shot on May 24 in a classroom.

Asked in a pre-recorded video testimony what she wanted to see happen at her school, she replied: “Be safe.” When she was asked if she felt safe at school, she shook her head and said, “I don’t want it to happen again.”

Miah is having nightmares and is still recovering from bullet fragments in her back and dealing with the trauma, her father, Miguel Cerrillo, told USA Today.

Miah’s testimony comes as Congress faces mounting pressure to respond to rising gun violence across the country, especially in the form of mass shootings (incidents with at least four dead or wounded, not including the shooter).

The massacres at Miah’s school and, days earlier, at a supermarket in Buffalo, upstate New York, have shocked the nation, reigniting urgent calls for gun safety reform.

Miah spoke before the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

The panel hears from survivors and family members of victims in recent mass shootings, including Felix and Kimberly Rubio, the parents of Lexi Rubio, one of Miah’s schoolmates who was killed.

Roy Guerrero, a pediatrician who treated several victims in Uvalde, and Zeneta Everhart, the mother of a survivor of the racist massacre in Buffalo, which left 10 African-Americans dead, will also speak.

“I hope all my colleagues will listen with open hearts as survivors of gun violence and their loved ones recount one of the darkest days of their lives,” said Carolyn Maloney, chair of the Oversight and Reform Committee.

“Ultimately, this hearing is about saving lives, and I hope it will galvanize my colleagues across the political spectrum to pass legislation to do just that.” She added.

A group of Democratic and Republican senators is working on legislation that, although limited, could become the first serious attempt to reform gun regulation in decades.

“Chosen to protect us”

The package would increase funding for mental health services and school safety, slightly expand background checks on gun buyers, and incentivize states to institute so-called “red flag laws,” which allow authorities to seize guns of persons considered a threat.

However, it does not include an assault weapons ban or universal background checks, meaning it will fall short of the expectations of President Joe Biden, progressive Democrats and anti-gun violence activists.

But even if an agreement is reached, the initiative will have to face the challenge of a Senate divided evenly between Democrats and Republicans and win the votes of at least 10 Republicans, although the majority is against significant regulatory reform.

“We know we won’t get everything we want, we know the push for even more meaningful gun safety will continue after this debate, but making real progress is very important.” Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday.

On the other side of Capitol Hill, Democrats who control the House of Representatives are set to pass a much broader package of proposals on Wednesday, including raising the purchase age for semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21.

Although those proposals do not have the 60 votes they would need to advance in the Senate, the Democratic leadership wanted to do something after the series of recent mass shootings.

Garnell Whitfield Jr, the son of 86-year-old Buffalo massacre victim Ruth Whitfield, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on white supremacist violence on Tuesday.

“We are decent people. We are taught to love even our enemies, but our enemies do not love us. So what are we supposed to do with all our anger and pain?” this retired firefighter said in an emotional appeal to senators.

“Do you expect us to keep forgiving and forgetting over and over again? And what are they doing? They were chosen to protect us and our way of life,” he pointed.

Ben Oakley
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