WASHINGTON - The U.S. House voted Wednesday to raise the minimum age limit to 21 to purchase a semi-automatic rifle and ban the sale of bump stocks, but the measures will likely face a challenge in the Senate.
The votes are among a package of bills that would expand federal gun regulations and they follow a second day of emotional testimony is which a House committee examined the effects of gun violence across the country. Parents of gun violence victims from Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York spoke at the hearing.
The youngest speaker, 11-year-old Miah Cerrillo, was showcased in a pre-recorded video message. She said she watched her teacher and classmates get shot by a gunman with an assault rifle at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. The fourth grader covered herself in blood and played dead. She survived the shooting that left 19 children and two teachers dead.
"He went in there and shot my teacher and told my teacher goodnight and shot her in the head and then he shot some of my classmates and the whiteboard," she said. "He shot my friend that was next to me and I thought he was going to come back so I grabbed the blood and I put it all over me."
Cerrillo said she does not feel safe at school and feels another shooting will happen again.
She was the first wounded student Dr. Roy Guerrero saw in the emergency room. Guerrero is Uvalde’s only pediatrician who urged change to gun laws after seeing the bodies of children who he said had been "pulverized" and "decapitated" by bullets.
"Innocent children all over the country are dead because laws and policies allow people to buy weapons before they are legally allowed to buy a pack of beer," Guerrero said.
The parents of 10-year-old Lexi Rubio are calling for a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines among other things. Lexi was one of the 19 children killed.
"Today we stand for Lexi and for her voice we demand action," Kimberley Rubio, her mother, said. "Somewhere out there, there is a mom thinking, ‘I can’t even imagine their pain’ not knowing that our reality will one day be hers unless we act now."
Republicans want to harden schools and address mental illness as ways to protect students, but it wasn’t just victims from Uvalde that are urging change on gun laws.
Zeneta Everhart, a mother of a son who survived the mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York is calling for action too.
"If after hearing from me and the other people testifying here today does not move you to act on gun laws, I invite you to my home to help me clean Zaire’s wounds so you can see up close the damage that has been caused to my son and my community," Everhart said.
Republicans put forward Lucretia Hughes, a witness who is part of the DC Project - Women for Gun Rights. Hughes lost one of her children to gun violence, but said more gun laws will not make a difference and called lawmakers "delusional" if they think laws will keep people safe.
"We believe that education is the key to safety, not ineffective legislation," Hughes said.