State Sen. Gutierrez, Uvalde victim’s sister, pediatrician ask Congress for gun violence solutions: ‘When is enough, enough?’

Faith Mata, sister of Tess Mata, and Dr. Roy Guerrero will also speak at congressional hearing

Nearly seven months after the tragedy at Robb Elementary School, State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, the sister of a slain student and Uvalde’s only pediatrician relived the horrors of May 24 during a congressional hearing on gun violence.

The hearing, “Examining Uvalde: The Search for Bipartisan Solutions to Gun Violence,” was held by the House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary for survivors, victims’ families, lawmakers and witnesses to advocate for tougher gun laws.

Are we not tired of hearing the stories of victims, hearing from victims’ families? Are we not tired of hearing yet another tragedy because of gun violence? When is enough, enough?” asked Faith Mata, the sister of 10-year-old Tess Mata.

She added that they waited for more than eight hours on May 24 to learn that her sister was among those killed. In the days following, she had to take “on the responsibilities and tasks that my parents could not bear to do.”

Watch Faith Mata’s testimony below.

Mata testified alongside Gutierrez, a Democrat who has repeatedly called for stricter gun laws and accountability and transparency from law enforcement agencies who responded to the massacre, and Dr. Roy Guerrero, Uvalde’s only pediatrician who made his way to the hospital after learning about the shooting.

What he saw when he got there, he said, was the terrifying result of a “weapon of war.”

That day, an 18-year-old gunman made his way inside Robb Elementary School and holed himself up inside two adjoining classrooms. He opened fire and remained inside the school for about 77 minutes before law enforcement intervened, fatally wounding two teachers and 19 students.

He had purchased two assault rifles legally from a local sports outfitter just days after turning 18.

“This debatable topic on assault rifles should not be brought up again because someone else’s child or sibling was murdered. It’s just an excuse at this point,” Faith Mata, 21, said. “You may never understand what my family’s going through, and I’m not asking you to. But today you can make a change to help families never have to feel what my family feels, what the families of Uvalde feel, and the many others of the mass shootings.”

Guerrero told the panel that he was called in to help with the aftermath of the shooting — but many of the victims never arrived.

They were dead, their bodies still in the classroom, he said.

Watch Dr. Roy Guerrero’s testimony below. WARNING: The following video and content contain graphic details.

Guerrero said he saw two slain children at the hospital. One child was decapitated, and the other child had a gunshot through their chest so large that he could nearly put his hand through.

You might mistakenly imagine a funeral where a child dies peacefully in a colorful coffin. But make no mistake, there’s no peace in the death of a child by a weapon of war,” he said.

When Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, asked him to describe the victims’ injuries, he said that he had never seen a child shot before but they were injuries that no one could have survived.

As a doctor, he said he recognizes effective tools. An assault rifle, he said, is an effective tool for war or combat.

“They’re not appropriate for self-defense in a home, in the school or in the supermarket. They are and always have been designed as a military-grade killing machine,” he said, adding victims “never stood a chance” against the weapon.

Guerrero said he’s a gun owner and believes in the Second Amendment, but asked lawmakers to meet on solutions for sensible gun control.

State Democrats and some Republicans asked for Gov. Greg Abbott to call lawmakers to Austin for a special session on gun laws, but the Republican governor refused to do so.

Gutierrez was one of those state lawmakers who wanted to raise the minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21 years old and discuss universal background checks, red flag laws, “cooling off” periods after gun purchases and regulations for high-capacity magazines.

In June, President Joe Biden signed the most sweeping gun violence bill in decades.

The legislation will toughen background checks for the youngest gun buyers, keep firearms from more domestic violence offenders and help states put in place red flag laws that make it easier for authorities to take weapons from people adjudged to be dangerous.

Gutierrez said that the families of victims’ families have also not received transparency and accountability from law enforcement agencies who responded, including the Texas Department of Public Safety.

“May 24 was a worse law enforcement response. One of the worst school shootings in our nation’s history,” Gutierrez said. “Policymakers, you and I have to grapple with how much loss of life is acceptable in relation to someone’s freedom to obtain and carry a weapon that can inflict so much damage.”

He reminded the panel that the shooter waited until he turned 18 years old to purchase the guns and ammunition legally.

Watch Sen. Roland Gutierrez’s testimony below.

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About the Author

Rebecca Salinas is an award-winning digital journalist who joined KSAT in 2019. She reports on a variety of topics for KSAT 12 News.

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