WASHINGTON: An 11-year-old survivor of last month’s mass shooting at a Texas elementary school told US lawmakers that after the gunman murdered her teacher and friends, she dabbed blood on herself in a desperate bid for survival.
Fourth-grader Miah Cerrillo and the parents of multiple young Americans killed and wounded in recent mass shootings testified on Wednesday before a congressional panel as lawmakers worked to find a compromise gun safety bill.
“He told my teacher ‘goodnight’ and shot her in the head,” Cerrillo said in a pre-taped interview played for the committee.
“Then he shot some of my classmates and the white board,” she said, adding: “He shot my friend that was next to me … and I thought he was going to come back to the room. I got the blood and put it all on me.” The young girl said she fears such violence could happen again at school.
The sobbing parents of one of the dead students also testified as well as the mother of a victim of the Buffalo massacre, the alleged work of an avowed white supremacist.
The hearing by the US House of Representatives’ Committee on Oversight and Reform comes about two weeks after a shooting by an 18-year-old at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, which left 19 students and two teachers dead.
It was but one in a spate of mass shootings across the US in recent weeks that killed dozens and sparked a new round of bipartisan talks in the Senate.
Republicans, who strongly support the right to keep and bear arms as protected by the Second Amendment of the US Constitution, have objected to proposals such as limited sales of the assault-style rifles used in the Uvalde massacre and another mass shooting at a Buffalo, New York, grocery story that killed 10 Black victims.
The full house is set to debate a bill later on Wednesday that would raise the minimum age to 21 from 18 on purchases of certain firearms and toughen prohibitions on untraceable guns. That bill is highly unlikely to pass the Senate, where it would require the votes of 10 Republicans.
The bipartisan Senate negotiations, led by Democrat Chris Murphy and Republican John Cornyn, are also including measures such as upgrades to school security, strengthening mental health services and doing more to keep guns out of the hands of people who are legally barred from owning them, such as felons.
Rather than pushing for a quick vote on the sweeping House bill, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has opted to give more time for the bipartisan negotiations.
Democrats have tried, in the past, to pass wide-ranging gun control legislation to stem the tide of mass murders, which already have topped 200 this year alone in the US, and other gun-related violence.
This time, they have signaled to Republicans that they would be willing to accept a much more narrow first step with legislation, even as President Joe Biden calls for tougher action, such as banning assault weapons.