On the morning of May 24, Miah Cerrillo was in class watching a cartoon movie when her teacher, Eva Mireles, asked the children to quickly hide. Some ran under the teacher’s desk. Others hid behind their backpacks. And then the first shot came through the door. A young man named Salvador Ramos, 18, armed with an AR-15 assault rifle, said “good night” to Mireles and shot him in the head.
Nineteen students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, died that morning. Cerrillo, 11, survived by smearing the blood of a dead friend on her and pretending she, too, had lost her life. This Tuesday, the girl shared her story in a pre-recorded video with members of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform of the House of Representatives in Washington, in a monographic session on the epidemic of armed violence in the United States.
Cerrillo had time to retrieve the teacher’s mobile phone and call the emergency service during the long time it took for the Uvalde authorities to act against Ramos, who ended up being killed by a Border Patrol guard. In the video shown in the Capitol, the girl is seen answering the question of whether she feels safe. She shakes her head and says, “I don’t want it to happen again.” And does she think it will happen again?, she hears herself to a voice in off. Then, Cerrillo does not hesitate, and nods his head affirmatively.
His testimony has been one of those that have been heard this Wednesday morning from the mouths of survivors and relatives of the victims of the recent mass shootings in Uvalde and Buffalo, New York, where another 18-year-old boy also with an AR- 15 and guided by his own theories of white supremacism killed 10 African Americans in a supermarket.
Cerrillo’s father, Miguel, who could not hold back his tears during his testimony, in which he said he felt his daughter had changed forever, has also spoken. The mother of one of the victims, Lexi Rubio, also failed to escape tears, who, in another video, recounted the tragic wait that ended with the worst possible news: “Buses and buses arrived, but she [su hija] was not on board. We heard there were children at the local hospital, so we ran there, but we didn’t find her either. My dad drove an hour and a half to San Antonio [para buscar en el hospital universitario, que acogió a algunos supervivientes]. At that moment, a part of me realized that [la niña] he was gone,” said Kimberly Rubio, sitting next to her husband. Confirmation came shortly after.
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“We are seeking a ban on assault rifles and high-capacity cartridges,” Rubio said. “It seems that for some reason, for some people, for people with money, for people who finance political campaigns, guns are more important than children.” “We don’t want them to think of Lexi as a statistic,” the mother continues in the video, in which she recalls the plans her daughter had made: “attend college in San Antonio,” “major in math,” and “study law”. “All those opportunities were taken away from him. And they also took them from us.” Rubio added: “A mother anywhere may be listening to our testimony and thinking to herself, ‘I can’t even imagine her pain,’ not knowing that our reality will one day end up being hers unless we act accordingly. time”.
Another of the morning witnesses was Roy Guerrero, the only pediatrician in Uvalde, who treated the victims. The bodies of two of them, he claimed, “were pulverized by bullets; they beheaded them. The flesh was so torn that the only clue to their identities were the drawings on the clothing, spattered with blood”. Guerrero added: “I chose to be a pediatrician. I chose to babysit. I can do that. But making sure our children are safe from guns, that’s the job of our politicians and leaders. In this case, you are the doctors and our country is the patient.”
As this session was taking place, a small number of lawmakers from both parties continued their secret meetings to reach some kind of agreement on gun control, which would be the first in three decades. In the reduced framework in which they operate, they seem to agree on the incentive of “red flag” laws, designed to contain armed violence, to increase security in schools, to impose some type of background check on buyers and to approve a game of seven billion for the prevention of mental health problems.
Measures such as raising the age from 18 to 21 to buy an AR-15, a ban on assault rifles, universal background checks to be able to sell a firearm or restricting the ability to the cartridges. In both Uvalde and Buffalo, the attackers had these highly lethal rifles, capable of loading dozens of bullets.
Democrats are confident that there will be some kind of pre-agreement before the end of this week. Republicans are not so convinced of that. On Saturday, Washington will host a major protest, under the slogan “Let’s march for our lives.” The last time it was convened was in 2018, after the massacre at a Parkland high school (in Florida) and it was organized by the movement that emerged from the survivors of that massacre that left 17 dead. Then it also seemed that something could change. And everything stayed the same.
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