08 June 2022
An 11-year-old survivor of last month's mass shooting at a Texas elementary school on Wednesday described her experience to U.S. lawmakers.
The young girl, Miah Cerrillo, told lawmakers that she saw the gunman kill her teacher and friends. "He told my teacher 'goodnight' and shot her in the head," Cerrillo said in a video interview that was recorded before the Congressional hearing took place.
Miah also said she covered herself in the blood of one of her dead friends in hopes that she would not be shot, too.
"I thought he would come back so I covered myself with blood," Miah told a panel of House of Representative lawmakers. "I put it all over me and I just stayed quiet." She called 911 using her dead teacher's phone and pleaded for help.
Miah said she fears such violence could happen again at school.
Miah and the parents of young Americans killed and wounded in recent mass shootings testified before a group of lawmakers.
The U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Oversight and Reform held the hearing as it tries to find agreement on a gun safety bill.
Two weeks ago, an 18-year-old gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Nineteen students and two teachers died in the May 24 attack. The attack was one of a series of mass shootings across the United States in recent weeks. The violence has led to renewed talks in the United States Congress about gun safety.
Republicans strongly support the right to keep and bear arms as protected by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Republican lawmakers have objected to proposals such as limited sales of guns that are known as assault rifles. Weapons similar to a semiautomatic rifle known as an AR-15 were used in the Uvalde shooting and another mass shooting last month at a food store in Buffalo, New York. That attack left 10 Black people dead. Police have described that mass shooting as a hate crime.
The parents of one of the students who died at Robb Elementary also testified. So did the mother of a survivor of the Buffalo shooting.
Zeneta Everhart's 20-year-old son Zaire was wounded in the Buffalo mass shooting. Everhart told lawmakers it was their duty to create legislation that protects Zaire and other Americans.
The parents of Lexi Rubio, who died in her classroom in Uvalde, also testified. Felix and Kimberly Rubio described finding out about their daughter's death just hours after leaving Lexi's school awards ceremony on the morning of the shooting.
The full House of Representatives debated legislation that would raise the minimum age to buy some certain kinds of guns to 21. That age is currently set at 18. Some legislation also aims to strengthen rules against untraceable guns – guns that can be purchased online and put together at home.
That legislation is not likely to pass in the Senate.
The Senate negotiations are led by Democrat Chris Murphy and Republican John Cornyn. They are discussing measures such as improving 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.
Rather than pushing for a quick vote on the House bill, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has chosen to give more time for negotiations.
The Gun Violence Archive records gun deaths in the United States. It says there have been more than 200 mass shootings this year.
Democratic lawmakers in the past have tried to pass wide-ranging gun control legislation in their efforts to deal with gun violence and mass shootings in the country.
Democrats have recently expressed to Republicans that they would be willing to accept a much narrower first step with legislation on the issue.
I'm Ashley Thompson.
Ashley Thompson adapted this story for Learning English based on reporting from Reuters and The Associated Press.
Words in This Story
interview –n. a meeting in which one side asks another questions in an effort to get information
testify –v. to talk and answer questions especially in a court of law or before lawmakers
assault rifle –n. any of a number of long guns that can fire many bullets
semiautomatic –adj. describing the action of a gun that can fire one bullet each time its trigger is pulled
wide-ranging –adj. including many different ideas, action or things