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‘It’s my son’: Mother of Buffalo shooting survivor urges gun reform ahead of hearing in Congress


(BUFFALO, N.Y.) — The mother of a man who was injured during a mass shooting at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket last month said she will implore lawmakers at a Congressional hearing next week to ban assault weapons.

Zeneta Everhart, who says her 21-year-old son, Zaire Goodman, is still recovering from gunshot wounds, told ABC News the shooter should never have been able to purchase a semi-automatic weapon.

While she says she supports the Second Amendment, Everhart does not believe the right to bear arms should include owning high-powered assault rifles.

“I do not believe that anyone walking the streets of Buffalo or any city in the country should be walking around with an AR-15,” she said.

“What do you need it for?” she added. “You need it for a mass shooting. That’s what you need it for.”

Miah Cerrillo, a fourth grader who survived the recent shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, is also among those expected to testify about gun violence Wednesday before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

The hearing comes as the Democrat-led committee ramps up efforts to push for legislation that would ban assault weapons and require stronger background checks for gun buyers following the recent mass shootings. Twenty-one people, including 19 children, were killed in the Uvalde school shooting on May 24, just 10 days after 10 Black people were fatally shot in Buffalo.

Another mass shooting on June 1 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, claimed four lives after a gunman stormed a medical facility with an AR-15-style rifle that police say he bought hours before the massacre.

“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,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., the chairwoman of the House committee, said in a statement.

“I hope it will galvanize my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass legislation to do just that,” she added.

Days after the Uvalde massacre, the committee sent letters to five gun manufacturers as part of their ongoing investigation into gun dealers that sell firearms used in violent crimes. Among those who received letters were the chief executives of Daniel Defense and Bushmaster Firearms, the companies that law enforcement officials said made the weapons used in the Uvalde and Buffalo shootings.

Representatives for Daniel Defense and Bushmaster did not immediately respond to ABC News’ requests for comment.

Daniel Defense said in a statement on its website after the shooting in Uvalde that it was cooperating with federal, state and local law enforcement in their investigations.

“We will keep the families of the victims and the entire Uvalde community in our thoughts and our prayers,” the company added.

On June 2, the House Judiciary Committee voted to advance the Protect Our Kids Act, which would raise the purchasing age for semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21. It would also limit the sale of large capacity magazines and tighten regulations around ghost guns — untraceable firearms assembled from parts.

The House will vote on the legislation this week. But even if the bill passes, it is unlikely to pass the Senate because it would require at least 10 Republicans to join all Democrats to break an expected filibuster.

President Joe Biden last week called on Republican lawmakers to push the reforms through.

“The fact that the majority of the Senate Republicans don’t want any of these proposals even to be debated or come up for a vote I find unconscionable,” Biden said during a primetime speech at the White House on Thursday. “This isn’t about taking anyone’s rights. It’s about protecting children.”

Republicans including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas have argued against gun reforms proposed by Democrats, saying universal background checks and banning assault weapons would do little to prevent future mass shootings.

“Their so-called solutions wouldn’t have stopped these mass murders, and they know this,” Cruz said at the National Rifle Association’s convention in Houston on May 27. He said politicians should focus on addressing mental health and increasing school security instead.

But Everhart believes a ban on assault weapons might have prevented the massacre on the predominately Black community on Buffalo’s east side — the neighborhood where she grew up.

“Ten people are dead from one community. That’s heartbreaking,” said Everhart, who also works for New York state Sen. Timothy Kennedy on diversity initiatives.

“I have these conversations day in and day out about racism and crime and gun laws,” she added. “That is my job. This time it’s me. It’s my son. It knocked on my door.”

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