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House Gun Hearings F*ck We Are Totally Out Of Words For Headlines
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The House Oversight and Reform Committee yesterday heard testimony from survivors and family members of victims of the latest human sacrifices on the altar of the Second Amendment. Those who spoke on the need to stop our national madness included 11-year-old Miah Cerrillo, who survived the massacre at Robb Elementary by smearing herself with blood from a friend's body and playing dead; Dr. Roy Guerrero, the pediatrician in Uvalde, Texas, who treated victims of the shooting and graphically described the corpses of children, and the parents of Lexi Rubio, 10, who received a "good citizen" award at the school that morning and was murdered not long after her parents waved goodbye to her, promising to get her ice cream that evening.
Republicans on the committee were very upset that anyone would politicize the tragedies by trying to pass laws that might prevent future tragedies. They argued instead that we simply need to accept that guns are necessary for freedom, and that we should make schools into locked fortresses so future maniacs with AR-15s can never get inside, or at least will have a bit more of a challenge.
'I can feel pieces of that bullet in his back.'
The first witness to testify was Zeneta Everhart, whose son Zaire Goodman, 21, survived the shooting in Buffalo, but with serious injuries. Goodman was working at the supermarket and helping a customer with groceries in the parking lot when he was shot by the 18-year-old white supremacist gunman; she said her son called her after being shot.
Everhart described her son's injuries, hoping maybe politicians might understand something about what a semiautomatic AR-15 Freedom Dispenser does to human bodies, by design. It is, after all, a weapon of war, meant to create lots of casualties quickly on a battlefield.
To the lawmakers who feel that we do not 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 from an AR-15. As I clean his wounds, I can feel pieces of that bullet in his back. Shrapnel will be left inside of his body for the rest of his life. Now, I want you to picture that exact scenario for one of your children.
This should not be your story or mine.
Everhart also had little patience for those well-meaning folks who say after a horror like a mass shooting that "this is not who we are," because she knows better:
America is inherently violent. 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. My ancestors, brought to America through the slave trade, were the first currency of America. Let me say that again for the people in the back: 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. 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.
The Washington Post notes that Everhart's mentions of racism and history "appeared to irk" some Republicans:
As Everhart discussed education and the need to teach Black history [...] Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.) shifted back in his chair before rolling his eyes. Rep. Andrew S. Clyde (R-Ga.) mouthed, “Oh my God.”
Those poor snowflakes.
'He told my teacher ‘goodnight,’ and shot her in the head.'
Eleven-year-old Miah Cerrillo was originally scheduled to testify in person , but her parents decided that the bright lights and cameras that would be in the hearing room would be too upsetting for her. Instead, she recorded a video to tell the story of the attack. (Audio tip: Don't turn up the volume until after the loud equipment thump 12 seconds in.)
Miah said she and her classmates were watching a movie when her teacher got an email and went to lock the classroom door. She said the teacher made eye contact with the 18-year-old gunman and told the kids, "Go hide." The children hid behind the teacher's desk and among backpacks on the floor. She said the shooter briefly went into the adjoining classroom, then returned and “told my teacher ‘goodnight,’ and shot her in the head,” then began shooting her classmates.
He shot my friend that was next to me, and I thought he was gonna come back to the room, so I grabbed the blood and put it all over me.
She said she picked up her teacher's phone and called 911: "I told her that we need help and to send the police in our classroom."
Miah added that she wants "to have security," and said that she doesn't feel safe going back to school. "I don't want it to happen again."
Miah's father Miguel Cerrillo was in the hearing room, and told the committee, through tears,
I came because I could’ve lost my baby girl. And she’s not the same little girl that I used to play with and run with and do everything, because she was Daddy’s little girl. [...]
I wish something would change, not only for our kids, but for every kid in the world, because our schools are not safe anymore. Something needs to really change.
Just to add shittiness to the mix, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Arizona) castigated Democrats on the committee for allegedly traumatizing Miah by taking her testimony, because he cares so much about protecting Miah — not from mass shootings, but from telling America about the horrors she witnessed. He claimed it was "particularly pernicious and outrageous to take an 11-year-old child, who graphically described how she spread a classmate’s blood upon her and feigned her own death, to make her relive that," because presumably she would otherwise not have thought of it yesterday. He accused Democrats of having "prolonged the agony" Miah had suffered, solely for "political gain," because obviously Democrats are just cynical and "despicable" that way.
Biggs has a point: Democrats know that Senate Republicans will never do anything stop the bloodshed, so why even try?
In an interview with the Washington Post later Wednesday, Miguel Cerrillo said that Miah knew her testimony might help make things change. "She’s a brave little girl and she will always be our brave little girl." That said, it's been hard, he said, noting that, "We tell her, you know, 'You have a couple of friends that are still alive.' [...] And she tells us, 'I don’t have friends anymore. All my friends are dead.'"
We started to say maybe Biggs should think about that, too, but if he did, he'd probably get mad at Mr. Cerrillo for not distracting her better.
'Something no prayer will ever relieve'
Dr. Roy Guerrero is the only pediatrician in Uvalde, and has cared for many of the kids at Robb Elementary from the time they were infants. He recounted that Miah Cerrillo had survived liver surgery as a baby, and "once again she’s here. As a survivor. Inspiring us with her bravery in telling her story." He recounted what he saw when he rushed to the hospital in Uvalde after the shooting. He saw Miah, in shock; her Lilo and Stitch T-shirt was covered in blood and her shoulder was bleeding from a shrapnel wound.
Trigger warning: the descriptionsin the video and the transcript following it are horrifying and graphic. If you need to skip down to the next heading, go ahead.
Guerrero recalled seeing the bodies of two children who hadn't had any chance at all, and what he found as he entered the surgical area was "something no prayer will ever relieve."
Two children, whose bodies had been so pulverized by the bullets fired at them, over and over again, whose flesh had been so ripped apart, that the only clue as to their identities were the blood spattered cartoon clothes still clinging to them. Clinging for life and finding none. I could only hope these two bodies were the tragic exception to the list of survivors.
Yes, decapitated. Pulverized. That's why parents were asked to provide DNA samples for identification. It's why, as Matthew McConaughey told the White House press corps, 10-year-old Maite Rodriguez could only be identified by the green Converse sneakers she always wore.
Dr. Guerrero said he'd become a pediatrician because kids are terrific patients: They usually do healthy stuff when they're asked. But adults are more difficult, because they're "resistant to change even when the change will make things better for ourselves. But especially when we think we’re immune to the fallout." Indeed we are. He also said that if he didn't do all he could to get military grade guns out of circulation, he'd be violating his Hippocratic oath to "do no harm."
God bless you, Dr. Guerrero.
'Somewhere out there, a mom is hearing our testimony'
Felix and Kimberly Rubio's 10-year-old daughter Lexi was murdered in Uvalde; they testified about the day she died, and begged Congress to recognize she was a wonderful little girl who didn't have to die, and to finally realize that children are more important than guns.
The words frequently interrupted by tears, Kimberly Rubio remembered attending the awards ceremony that morning at Robb, where Lexi received a "good citizen" award:
We told her we loved her, and we would pick her up after school. I can still see her, walking with us toward the exit. I left my daughter at that school, and that decision will haunt me for the rest of my life.
She remembered the panic of trying to get word of Lexi, and the awful moment when they learned she'd been killed. And she remembered her sweet smart daughter, who wanted to someday attend college on a softball scholarship and become a lawyer maybe.
We do not want you to think of Lexi as just a number. She was intelligent, compassionate, and athletic. She was quiet. Shy, unless she had a point to make. When she knew she was right, as she so often was, she stood her ground. She was firm, direct, voice unwavering.
Rubio called for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and for an end to the gun industry's protection from liability. Most hauntingly, she warned that unless things change, this will all happen again and again:
Somewhere out there, a mom is hearing our testimony and thinking to herself, “I can’t even imagine their pain,” not knowing that our reality will one day be hers, unless we act now.
The March for Our Lives is this Saturday. Find one near you.
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