“To the lawmakers who do not feel that we need stricter gun laws, let me paint a picture for you: My son Zaire has a hole in the right side of his neck, two on his back and another on his left leg, caused by an exploding bullet by an AR-15,”
U.S. lawmakers heard gut-wrenching testimony from victims of gun violence and their relatives at a hearing on Wednesday.
Zanetta Everhart described the injuries suffered by her 20-year-old son Zaire Goodman, who worked at the Tops Friendly supermarket in Buffalo when an avowed white supremacist with a semi-automatic rifle attacked. Her son survived. Ten people did not.
“As I clean his wound I can feel pieces of that bullet inside his back. Shrapnel will be left inside his body for the rest of his life.”
“And then we went to go hide behind my teacher’s desk, and behind the backpacks…”
Perhaps the most sobering voice at Wednesday’s hearing of the House Oversight and Reform Committee came from 11-year-old Miah Cerrillo. The fourth-grade student was in her classroom at Robb Elementary School when an 18-year-old gunman with a semi-automatic rifle stormed in, slaughtering 19 students and two teachers.
“He told my teacher good night and shot her in the head. [flash] When I went to the backpacks he shot my friend that was next to me and I thought he was going to come back to the room so I grabbed the blood and I put it all over me. And… [PERSON, OFF CAMERA, ASKS: “What did you do then? When you put the blood on yourself.”] Just stayed quiet. And then I grabbed my teacher’s phone and called 911. [PERSON, OFF CAMERA, ASKS: “And what did you tell 911?”] I told her that we need help.”
Wednesday’s hearing comes as lawmakers wrangle over new gun-safety measures in the wake of mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde. President Joe Biden has asked Congress to raise the age limit on purchasing semi-automatic rifles, expand background checks, and enact what are known as red-flag laws which allow police to remove weapons from individuals deemed dangerous.
“I chose to be a pediatrician. I chose to take care of children.”
The witnesses on Capitol Hill included Dr. Roy Guerrero, a pediatrician who treated victims of the Uvalde massacre. He described the horrific injuries inflicted on small bodies by the gunman’s weapon.
“In this case, you are the doctors, and our country is the patient. We are laying on the operating table, riddled with bullets, like the children of Robb Elementary and so many other schools. We are bleeding out, and you are not there.”
With Democrats and Republicans deeply divided on guns, the talks in the Senate have focused on modest goals including encouraging states to pass “red flag” laws and federal funding to improve school security.