Gun Violence Debate Updates: Gun Deaths in 2022 Exceed 700 for Children, Teens

Live Updates
House Oversight Committee Hearing on Gun Violence
The House Oversight Committee on Wednesday held a hearing on gun violence with survivors and families of victims from recent mass shootings. Above, activists rally against gun violence outside the U.S. Capitol on June 6, 2022, in Washington, D.C. Organized by several anti-gun violence groups, the activists were at the Capitol to urge lawmakers to take action on gun safety in the wake of multiple mass shootings. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The live updates for this blog have ended.

Gun Deaths in 2022 Exceed 700 for Children, Teens

More than 2,500 children and teenagers in the U.S. have been either injured or killed by gunfire so far in 2022, according to the Gun Violence Archive (GVA).

The not-for-profit research organization provided an update on the number of Americans under 20 impacted by gun violence ahead of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform's Wednesday hearing on the national gun violence crisis. The GVA said the numbers it shared on social media were updated as of June 7.

Nearly 1,800 children and teens have been injured by gunfire since the start of 2022, and 717 children and teens have been killed by gunfire in that time, according to the GVA.

In a separate post on Twitter, the GVA contrasted those numbers with the annual totals of deaths and injuries due to gunfire among children and teens over the last several years. In all of 2014, fewer than 3,000 children and teens were injured or killed by gunfire, a total that has been steadily climbing in the years since. The total reached 5,694 last year, according to GVA data.

Oversight Committee Hearing Ends

The House Oversight Committee hearing on gun violence has ended.

Republican ranking member James Comer of Kentucky said Congress should take steps to "harden schools."

He said there needs to be trained resource officers in schools and better communication with social media companies. Comer also said lawmakers must stop efforts to defund the police, calling it a "utter failure," and ensure there are prosecutors who are "tough on crime."

Committee Chair Maloney said Congress must do more to pass gun control laws.

She said the "fight must not end" with the House vote Tuesday.

"The gun lobby still has a powerful hold over my Republican colleagues," Maloney said, adding that these lawmakers oppose any gun safety laws that might hurt the gun industry's bottom line.

Maloney said the committee will continue to gather information and issue its findings.

She also said she would like to hold a second hearing for the gun manufacturers so they can explain why they "continue to sell weapons of choice for mass murderers."

Carolyn Maloney
Chairwoman Representative Carolyn Maloney speaks during a House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing on gun violence on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on June 8, 2022. ANDREW HARNIK/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Witnesses Describe Impact of Assault Rifles on Bodies

Editor's note: This post contains graphic information.

Witnesses testified about the impact assault rifles have on the human body.

Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said the military-grade weapons leave "cavernous holes" in bodies.

He said assault weapons like the AR-15 are known for three things: "how many rounds they fire, the speed at which they fire those rounds and body count."

Nick Suplina of Everytown for Gun Safety said AR-15s are designed and advertised for maximum damage in the shortest time.

In the hearing's first panel, Dr. Roy Guerrero, a Uvalde pediatrician, said he was at Uvalde Memorial Hospital the day of the Robb school shooting.

What started out as a "typical" Tuesday turned into horror as he heard parents yelling children's names in desperation, begging for news about their children.

"Those mother's cries I will never get out of my head," he said.

In the surgical areas of the hospital, Guerrero described seeing two dead children.

"Two children, whose bodies had been so pulverized by the bullets fired at them, decapitated, whose flesh had been so ripped apart," he said.

Guerrero said the only clue to their identities was "the blood spattered cartoon clothes still clinging to them, clinging for life and finding none."

DOJ Outlines What's Next in Review of Uvalde Shooting

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) shared information Wednesday on what the next steps of its Office of Community Oriented Policing Services' (COPS Office) critical incident review of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, will entail.

The office will move forward with its review with help from nine experts. The experts from across the country "have extensive experience in a variety of relevant areas, including emergency management and active shooter response, school safety, incident command and management, tactical operations, officer safety and wellness, and victim and family support," the DOJ said in a Wednesday news release.

As the COPS Office moves forward with its review, the DOJ said it will be progressing "as expeditiously as possible." Officials involved in the review will create a reconstruction of the incident, assess relevant documents, visit the incident location and speak with "a wide variety of stakeholders."

Among the areas under review will be how law enforcement officials respond to active shooter incidents and support impacted family members and members of the wider community once those incidents are over.

The DOJ said the review's assessment and recommendations will reflect "national standards" and will conclude with a final report.

"Nothing can undo the pain that has been inflicted on the loved ones of the victims, the survivors, and the entire community of Uvalde," Attorney General Merrick Garland said Wednesday. "But the Justice Department can and will use its expertise and independence to assess what happened and to provide guidance moving forward."

Biggs Says Democrats 'Prolonged the Agony' of Uvalde Survivor

Republican Representative Andy Biggs of Arizona said Democrats "prolonged the agony" of Uvalde shooting survivor Miah Cerrillo by asking the fourth-grade student to provide testimony for Wednesday's hearing.

Cerrillo delivered pre-recorded testimony that was presented during the hearing's first panel of witnesses.

"The most egregious thing that the Democrats did today is they took a person, a young person, little Miah, who was traumatized two weeks ago, still suffering under obvious PTSD as she testified in that video, and bringing that poor little girl to relive this," Biggs said.

Democratic Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida previously spoke during the hearing of the increased need for "stop the bleed" kits in schools amid the rise in mass shootings.

Biggs said that, if he and his colleagues were discussing the trauma associated with the need for those kits, then it was "particularly pernicious and outrageous" to ask Cerrillo to relive the day of the Uvalde shooting.

"If we're talking about PTSD, you just prolonged the agony of that little child. For what? For your own political gain, your own political purpose," Biggs said. "That is despicable."

Porter Says Guns Should Be as Regulated as Peloton Bikes

Democratic Representative Katie Porter of California called for guns to be as regulated as other consumer products.

Porter said that between 2015 and 2020, there were at least 2070 unintentional shootings by children, and that 765 of those children died.

"A consumer product that causes this much harm to the public would normally be subject to a recall," Porter said.

But federal law, she said, prohibits the Consumer Product Safety Commission, "the agency responsible for protecting the public from dangerous products," from regulating guns.

Porter called that "absurd."

"After one child died using a Peloton treadmill last year, the Consumer Product Safety Commission intervened and recalled the product," she said. "But when hundreds of children die using guns, there is no federal response."

Porter added that there is no federal safety standard for guns.

Katie Porter Guns
Representative Katie Porter addresses Amy Swearer, legal fellow at the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, The Heritage Foundation, during the House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing with victims' family members and survivors of the Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, massacres, on June 8, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Jason Andrew-Pool//Getty Images

Ocasio-Cortez Calls Gun Industry Profits 'Blood Money'

Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York said the debate over gun laws is about "blood money."

Ocasio-Cortez said the increased number of school shootings in recent years is "not normal."

Between 2009 and 2018, there were 238 school shootings in the U.S. Looking at G7 partners, other countries had a combined five school shootings during that period.

"Not only is it not normal, it is internationally embarrassing and delegitimizing to the U.S. because for all the billions and trillions this body authorizes in the name of national security we can't even keep our kids safe from their schools being turned into a war zone," she said.

She asked Senior Vice President for Law & Policy of Everytown for Gun Safety Nick Suplina if there is a correlation between gun industry profits and gun deaths, to which Suplin said, "yes."

"This is about blood money," Ocasio-Cortez said.

She added that the National Rifle Association spent about $250 million in 2020, more than twice the entire salary of Congress combined. She said much of the money went toward lobbying against gun safety laws.

Ocasio-Cortez also dismissed Republican claims about Democrat-led cities with high gun violence rates.

She said 70 percent of illegally trafficked gun in New York City come from Republican states with loose gun laws.

"We're losing children due to lawlessness unleashed by red states," she said.

AOC Guns
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks during a House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing on gun violence on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on June 8, 2022. Andrew Harnik-Pool/AFP via Getty Images

House Votes on Gun Control Legislation

The House is voting on two pieces of gun-control legislation.

The "Protecting Our Kids Act" and the "Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act" would raise the federal minimum age to buy an assault rifle from 18 to 21 and enact nationwide red-flag laws.

Lawmakers debated the bill for about an hour.

The package is expected to pass in the House but be voted down in the Senate.

Rep. Clyde Says Criminals Will Obtain Weapons 'However They Want'

Republican Representative Andrew Clyde of Georgia asked permission during the committee hearing to introduce a Fox News article dated May 28, 2022, about a woman who "saved several lives" by using a pistol to stop a gunman. The article was admitted without objection.

The article covered an incident that occurred in Charleston, West Virginia, on the day after the shooting in Uvalde, Texas. In Charleston, a woman who had a pistol fatally shot a man who had begun shooting an AR-15 into a crowd at a party.

Clyde said the incident in Uvalde was "an incredible tragedy" but said something "very similar" had occurred the next day in West Virginia. In the latter incident, Clyde said none of the party attendees had been injured. The man who began firing an AR-15 at the Charleston party was a convicted felon who obtained his weapon illegally, Clyde said.

"Criminals will obtain their weapons however they want," Clyde said. "They will get them illegally."

Clyde added that additional gun laws "are not going to stop that, not in any way, shape or form. Because criminals simply do not obey the law."

Rep. Clyde speaks at committee hearing
Representative Andrew Clyde speaks during a House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing on gun violence on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on June 8, 2022. JASON ANDREW/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Experts Weigh in on Gun Legislation

After hearing from shooting survivors and the families of victims, the Oversight Committee heard from a panel of leaders and experts on gun violence.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said it is "high noon in America" and that it is time for "every one of us to decide where we stand on the issue of gun violence."

"We must do it now," he said. "The clock is ticking, every day, every minute towards another hour of death."

Eric Adams
New York City Mayor Eric Adams testifies during a House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing on gun violence, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on June 8, 2022. Andrew Harnik-Pool/AFP via Getty Images

He asked lawmakers to help combat the flow of illegal guns into American cities, noting that the New York City Police Department has taken over 3,000 illegal guns of the streets this year.

Adams also asked for stronger background checks, an assault rifle ban and support for local law enforcement.

"No matter what our party affiliation, we are united in our mission to stop crime, save lives and bring an end to gun violence," he said.

Greg Jackson, the executive director of the Community Justice Action Fund, said our country is in a public health crisis.

"To eliminate gun violence, we must recognize that this is a public health crisis that deserves a public health response," he said.

He said over more than 110 Americans are killed gun violence every year, noting the disproportionate amount of gun violence in Black and brown communities.

"These stats are not stats, these are stories of real people dying in our streets," he said.

Becky Pringle, the president of the National Education Association, said schools need "more resources, not more revolvers."

Becky Pringle
National Education Association President Becky Pringle testifies during a House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing on gun violence on Capitol Hill, on June 8, 2022, in Washington, D.C. Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images

"Where there are more guns, more people are killed by guns," she said.

She said lawmakers are ignoring the majority of Americans to support gun-control measures and called for an end to "so-called solutions that do not address the problem."

Pringle said we cannot place enough armed guards at every school in America to "protect our babies" and we cannot ask educators to carry weapons and wear body armor "while teaching and nurturing our students."

"By the time someone has shown up with a military weapon it is already too late," she said.

"Our children deserve the chance to grow and to thrive—to live into their brilliance. Pass commonsense gun-control legislation so that not one more community is shattered, and not one more anguished parent like we heard today has to lay their precious child to rest."

Joseph Gramaglia
Buffalo, New York, Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia testifies during a House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing on gun violence on Capitol Hill, on June 8, 2022, in Washington, D.C. Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images

Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia dismissed the argument that a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun.

He said Officer Aaron Salter Jr., who was on the scene during the grocery store shooting, was "no match for what he was up against. Gramaglia said Salter had "no chance" against a shooter with an AR-15 and high-capacity magazines.

Instead, Gramaglia called for commonsense gun laws that close loopholes and update existing laws to address new threats like ghost guns.

Nick Suplina, the senior vice president for law and policy at Everytown for Gun Safety, said, "We are a nation of gun violence survivors."

 Nick Suplina
Nick Suplina, senior vice president for law and policy at Everytown for Gun Safety, testifies during a House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing on gun violence on Capitol Hill, on June 8, 2022, in Washington, D.C. Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images

While gun deaths are "hitting all-time highs," Suplina said, the gun industry is "breaking profit records year after year."

"The gun industry uses fear to sell guns and it believes that mass shootings are great for gun sales," he said. "They are making money on these tragedies right now."

He said gun makers are marketing AR-15s to younger audiences and making weapons that bypass restrictions intended to make people safer.

Suplina called on Congress to pass laws to keep the gun industry out of the conversation around gun violence and gun control.

"I hope you have the [gun industry] CEOs appear here for testimony, because America hears every day from the families who've lost loved ones to gun violence, and our country deserves to hear from the CEOs who are profiting off of their loss and pain," he said.

Amy Swearer
The Heritage Foundation legal fellow Amy Swearer testifies during a House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing on gun violence on Capitol Hill, on June 8, 2022, in Washington, D.C. Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images

Amy Swearer, a legal fellow form the Heritage Foundation, spoke before Congress about the flaws in proposed gun laws.

"Should anyone dare question the constitutionality, practicality or effectiveness of these policies, their opposition is immediately framed as callous obstructionism and their legitimate concerns are brushed aside," she said.

Swearer said proposed legislation are not effective in lowering rates of gun violence and "suffer from serious constitutional and practical defects" and will not have the impact Congress promises they will.

She called for Congress to consider alternatives that are "more effective and less constitutionally suspect."

Mother of Uvalde Victim Doesn't Want Daughter to Be 'Just a Number'

Kimberly Rubio, the mother of 10-year-old Uvalde shooting victim Lexi Rubio, said the decision to leave her daughter at Robb Elementary School on the day of the shooting "will haunt me for the rest of my life."

Rubio delivered testimony remotely during Wednesday's House committee hearing while sitting beside her husband, Felix.

Rubio began her testimony by describing the morning when she dropped Lexi and her younger child off at school the morning of the shooting. She and Felix returned to the school twice that morning to attend awards ceremonies for their children. Lexi received the Good Citizen award and was also recognized for earning straight A's, Rubio said.

Rubio recalled taking a photo of Lexi with one of the school's teachers and promising to get Lexi ice cream later that evening.

"I can still see her walking with us toward the exit," Rubio said. "In the reel that keeps scrolling across my memories, she turns her head and smiles back at us to acknowledge my promise."

Rubio said her husband had a "rare day off" and dropped her off at the Uvalde Leader News, where she works, before heading home. Rubio was working when her newsroom began receiving reports of a shooting near the school.

Rubio went on to describe the confusion her family faced as they tried to find both of their younger children who attended Robb Elementary. They found their younger son, but not Lexi.

They later learned their daughter was among the 21 shooting victims.

"We don't want you to think of Lexi as just a number," said Rubio, who went on to describe her daughter as "intelligent, compassionate and athletic," a young girl who was "quiet, shy unless she had a point to make."

"So today, we stand for Lexi, and as her voice, we demand action," Rubio said.

She called for a ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines.

"We understand that for some reason, to some people, to people with money, to people who fund political campaigns, that guns are more important than children. So at this moment, we ask for progress," she said.

Rubio continued by calling for the minimum age to purchase such weapons to be raised from 18 to 21 and asked for red-flag laws, stronger background checks and a repeal of gun manufacturers' liability immunity.

Rubio concluded her testimony by saying: "Somewhere out there, there is a mom listening to our testimony, thinking, 'I can't even imagine their pain,' not knowing that our reality will one day be hers unless we act now."

Mother of Uvalde victim delivers testimony
Felix Rubio and Kimberly Rubio, parents of Lexi Rubio, a 10-year-old victim of the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, appear on a screen as they testify remotely during a House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing on gun violence on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on June 8, 2022. ANDREW HARNIK/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Uvalde Shooting Survivor Speaks to Congress

Miah Cerrillo, a fourth-grader and Uvalde shooting survivor, testified before the Committee via a previously recorded video statement.

The 11-year-old described her experience during the shooting.

She said her class was watching a movie when her teacher got an email and told the kids to hide. Cerrillo hid behind her teacher's desk and saw the gunman shoot out a small window to their classroom and go to the next room.

Then, the gunman came into her classroom through a connecting door, Cerrillo said. He shot her teacher in the head and then shot her classmates.

Cerrillo said the gunman shot her friend next to her before leaving.

She said she was afraid the gunman would return, so Cerrillo covered herself in the blood of her dead friend and stayed quiet. She then got her teacher's phone and called 911 asking to send the police to help.

Cerrillo said she does not feel safe in school because she is afraid another shooting will happen.

Cerrillo's father, Miguel, then testified in person to the Committee. His remarks were brief, but his raw emotion left an impact.

He said he was present because he "could have lost my baby girl."

"Schools are not safe anymore," he said. "Something needs to really change."

Miguel Cerrillo
Miguel Cerrillo, father of Miah Cerrillo, a fourth-grade student at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, waits to testify during the House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing with family members and survivors of the Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, mass shootings, on June 8, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Jason Andrew-Pool/Getty Images

Mother of Buffalo Survivor: 'I Do Not Feel Protected'

Zeneta Everhart gave impassioned testimony before the Committee.

Her son, Zaire Goodman, was shot several times during the racially motivated shooting at a Buffalo grocery store.

Goodman has four bullet holes in his body and will have shrapnel in his body for the rest of his life, Everhart said.

"I continuously hear after every mass shooting that this is not who we are as Americans," Everhart said. "Hear me clearly: This is exactly who we are."

She said violence is inherent to America and its history, noting hate, racism and the slave trade.

Everhart pressed that African American history be part of American history.

"We cannot continue to whitewash education, creating generations of children to believe that one race of people are better than the other," she said. "I bleed, you bleed. We are all human."

She wants the Buffalo shooting to be part of the history we teach our children.

Everhart said children should not have access to weapons, and lawmakers who do not pass strict gun laws should be voted out of office.

"Commonsense gun laws are not about your personal beliefs," Everhart said. "You are elected because you have been chosen and are trusted to protect us. I do not feel protected."

Maloney Blames Gun Industry for Mass Shootings

In her opening statement, the House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney said guns are claiming the lives of Americans in places they should be safe.

She said gun violence is a uniquely American tragedy and is the leading cause of deaths of children in this country.

"We are failing our children and we are failing each other," Maloney said.

She called on lawmakers to be honest about why this country fails to act sooner when gun violence tragedies occur.

Maloney dismissed Republicans who blame violent video games, diminishing families values and open doors for mass shootings.

She said the gun industry that "makes billions selling weapons that are killing children" is to blame.

"No civilian needs an assault rifle," she said. "The Second Amendment does not protect the right to own a weapon of war—it's time that we banned assault rifles from our streets, from our communities, from our homes."

She said she has launched an investigation into five leading gun manufacturers that make assault weapons. Maloney wants to investigate why these companies market the guns to civilians and how much they are profiting from the shootings.

WATCH: House Oversight Committee Hearing

The House Oversight Committee hearing on gun violence began Wednesday morning.

Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney said this hearing will "examine the terrible impact of gun violence and the urgent need to rein in the weapons of war used to perpetrate these crimes."

"It is my hope that all my colleagues will listen with an open heart as gun violence survivors and loved ones recount one of the darkest days of their lives," she said in a statement. "This hearing is ultimately about saving lives, and I hope it will galvanize my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass legislation to do just that."

Families of victims from both the Uvalde and Buffalo shooting will testify, as well as 11-year-old Uvalde survivor Miah Cerrillo.

The hearing will stream live on the Oversight Committee website and YouTube.