By Clare Foran, CNN
A House committee will hear testimony on gun violence at a hearing on Wednesday, including from a fourth-grade student who survived the horrific mass shooting last month at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, that shocked the nation.
Eleven-year-old Miah Cerrillo spoke with CNN recently about her experience and described in chilling detail how she had been afraid the gunman would kill her so she had smeared herself with a friend’s blood and played dead.
Wednesday’s hearing will provide a high-profile platform for Cerrillo and others directly impacted by gun violence to tell their harrowing stories to the American public. It is rare for Congress to hear testimony from someone as young as Cerrillo on a subject as sensitive and disturbing as gun violence.
The hearing will also feature testimony from the parents of one of the victims at the Texas elementary school massacre and the mother of a victim of a recent mass shooting at a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York.
Congressional Democrats have been pressing for action, and calling for stricter gun control, in the wake of the mass shootings. A bipartisan group of senators are in talks to see if they can find common ground on some kind of legislation in response to the tragedies, but it remains to be seen what the negotiations will amount to in the highly polarized political climate.
Here’s what to know about Wednesday’s hearing:
What to expect and key witnesses
The hearing will begin at 10 a.m. EST and will be convened by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, chaired by Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York. House Democrats are describing it as a hearing on “the urgent need to address the gun violence epidemic.”
According to the committee’s website, key witnesses include Felix and Kimberly Rubio, the parents of Lexi Rubio, a 10-year-old killed in the school shooting. The witness list also includes Zeneta Everhart, the mother of Zaire Goodman, a victim of the Buffalo supermarket shooting who was treated and released from the hospital.
Among a number of other witnesses, the panel is also expected to hear from Joseph Gramaglia, the Buffalo police commissioner, and Roy Guerrero, a pediatrician from Uvalde.
What we know about key witnesses testifying
CNN recently spoke with Cerrillo about the 11-year-old’s experience during the shooting in Uvalde. She described one moment where her teacher backed into the classroom and the gunman followed. She told CNN he made eye contact with one of the teachers, said, “Goodnight,” and shot her.
She said bullets had flown by her, and fragments hit her shoulders and head. Cerrillo said she had been afraid that the gunman would return to her classroom to kill her and a few other surviving friends. So she dipped her hands in the blood of a classmate — who lay next to her, already dead — and smeared the blood all over herself to play dead.
Cerrillo’s mother said her daughter is traumatized and can’t sleep. The child’s parents have started a GoFundMe to pay for her therapy.
CNN’s Jason Carroll recently spoke with the parents of Lexi Rubio, who was killed. Through tears, Felix Rubio said, “All I can hope is that she’s just not a number. Hopefully something gets resolved. That’s all we ask.” Asked what he would like to see resolved, he said, “Gun violence. Guns.”
“This is enough,” he said. “No one else needs to go through this. We never needed to go through this, but we are.”
Everhart told CNN’s Anderson Cooper recently about her son, “His recovery has been a miracle.”
Goodman had called Everhart from the supermarket parking lot and told her he had been shot while helping an older woman with her shopping cart or groceries. He was shot in his lower neck, his mother said.
“The doctor told me that it was one of those bullets that when it goes into you it shatters. It explodes,” she said. “So Zaire has been left with shrapnel inside of him that they said will probably, eventually, come out of his skin at some point, but that it would do more harm to do surgery to remove it, so they don’t want to do that.”
What Congress is considering related to gun control
A bipartisan group of senators are engaged in talks to see if common ground on gun legislation can be found in the aftermath of the horrific shootings.
While Democrats have a majority in the Senate, they control only 50 seats, and would need at least 10 Republicans to join them to advance any kind of gun bill.
As a result, only legislation with bipartisan buy-in stands any chance of succeeding. It will be difficult to pass any kind of measure, however, given widespread opposition to gun control from Republicans and how polarizing the issue of guns is in Congress.
Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the lead GOP negotiator in the bipartisan talks, recently discussed the broad contours of what he believes could be agreed to in a potential deal on gun legislation.
“We’re talking about common-sense targeted reforms that are responsive to the tragedies in Uvalde and elsewhere, and that will I believe save lives,” he said, going on to say, “Strengthening mental health, bolstering school security, keeping guns out of the hands of people who are already legally prohibited from having them. I think a lot of our colleagues could get behind those provisions.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, provided an update on the timeline for the n negotiations on Tuesday, saying Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut has told him he is hopeful there will be an agreement by the end of the week.
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CNN’s Nora Neus, Jason Carroll and Alisha Ebrahimji contributed to this report.