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Mass shooting survivors, family members testify in House gun control hearing

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Mass shooting survivors, family members testify in House gun control hearing
Felix Rubio and Kimberly Rubio, parents of Lexi Rubio of Uvalde, Texas, testify before a House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing on gun violence on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Pool photo by Jason Andrew/UPI | License Photo

June 8 (UPI) -- A House committee on gun control on Wednesday heard testimony from witnesses and survivors of the Uvalde shooting, including one who covered herself in her friends' blood and played dead in order to avoid being shot.

The hearing, held ahead of scheduled votes in the House on several pieces of gun control legislation, included survivors of the shooting, several parents and a doctor who treated some of the children killed in the shooting.

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"Gun violence is the leading cause of death for children in our country, As a society are failing our children and we are failing each other," Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D- N.Y., who chaired the hearing, said in opening remarks at the hearing.

Maloney said that no other country comes close to the United States in mass shootings, noting that between 2009 and 2018, the United States had 288 school shootings compared to the combined five in the six other G7 nations.

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"We stand alone in mass shootings -- other countries pass sensible gun safety laws and protect their children," Maloney said, calling the "out of control gun violence a uniquely American tragedy."

"Knee-jerk reactions to impose gun control policies that seek to curtail our constitutional right to bear arms are not the answer," ranking committee member Rep. James Comer, R-Ky. said. "Instead of rushing to score political points at the expense of our justice system working properly, we must learn from these senseless acts of violence and take concrete action to reduce violence in the future."

Robb Elementary fourth grader Miah Cerrillo told the committee her teacher got an email alert about the shooter and attempted to close the classroom door but he'd already got there.

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"He told my teacher goodnight and then shot her in the head. And then he shot some of my classmates," Miah said.

She said she covered herself in blood from another student the gunman had shot and stayed quiet, playing dead, before getting to her teacher's phone and to call 911.

"I don't want it to happen again," Miah said.

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Miguel Cerrillo, Miah's father, tearfully testified that Miah isn't the same little girl after the Uvalde shooting.

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"I wish something would change, Not only for our kids but for every single kid in the world because schools aren't safe anymore. Something needs to really change," Miguel Cerrillo said.

Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., called Democrat leadership out of touch with reality is they didn't consider making schools harder targets as part of any action.

"No one should weaponize or politicize these abhorrent acts to punish law-abiding citizens," said Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., advocating for "a volunteer force of well-trained and armed staff in addition to a school resource officer."

Kimberly Rubio, a local reporter who lost her 10-year-old daughter Lexi in the Uvalde shooting, testified that she would like to see the legal age to buy an AR-15 rise to 21, increased red flag laws, a ban on high-capacity magazines and stronger background checks for people buying firearms.

She said she said she'd like to see an end to gun manufacturer immunity from liability.

In tearful testimony she said, "Today we stand for Lexi, And as her voice we demand action. We seek a ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines," Rubio said, blaming politics and money for the lack of action to stop school shootings.

"To people with money, to people who fund political campaigns, guns are more important than children," Rubio said.

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Zeneta Everhart's son was shot in the Tops Market mass shooting in Buffalo. She said she hears people say after mass shootings that this is not who we are as a nation, but countered that reality suggests something else.

"America is inherently violent, this is who we are as a nation," Everhart said. "The very existence of this country was founded on violence, hate and racism with the near-annihilation of my native brothers and sisters."

Everhart told the committee thoughts and prayers are not enough.

"We need you to stand with us in the days, weeks, months years to come and be ready to go to work to create the change this country so desperately needs," she said.

Lucretia Hughes of the D.C. project Women For Gun Rights told the committee she lost a 19-year-old son to gun violence. But she said gun control is not the answer.

Hughes said her son's life was taken by "a criminal with an evil heart" and a justice system that failed to hold the convicted felon who killed her son accountable for earlier crimes.

She said gun control measures like the ones the committee is talking about are in place in Washington D.C., New York, Atlanta, Chicago and St. Louis and she maintained they don't work.

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"Making it more difficult or even more expensive for me and people that look like me and other law abiding citizens will not make us safer," Hughes said. "How about letting me defend myself?"

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