WASHINGTON — For the first time in nearly a decade, the House held a hearing on gun violence, nearly one year since the deadly shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.
- House holds hearing on gun violence almost 1 year after Parkland shooting
- Those impacted by shootings invited to attend hearing
- Student Aalayah Eastmond shared story of survival at Parkland
- RELATED: How the Parkland Mass Shooting Catalyzed Change in 2018
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School senior Aalayah Eastmond shared her emotional story of survival, when she was forced to hide under a dead classmate's body to save her own life.
"As Nicholas fell, I matched his every movement and hid under his lifeless body as bullets riddled my classmates," Eastmond said in her testimony.
The 17-year-old's testimony brought those in the hearing room to their feet, as she called on lawmakers to stop the violence.
"Our lives depend on you. Our lives are in your hands. Thank you," she said to a round of applause.
While the high school senior says it’s painful to relive that day, she said she hopes her story will inspire change.
"Before the shooting I was a little quiet and shy, and I didn’t want to be controversial, but now I know if no one is going to step up and take the baton and talk about it, then I have to do it," she said.
Universal background checks and banning assault weapons have been two major sticking points on Capitol Hill. Tensions were on full display during the hearing, as a father of a Parkland shooting victim repeatedly interrupted Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) 1st District, who does not support imposing background checks for all gun sales and transfers.
“We want to make sure we embrace policy reforms that actually solve the problem. My concern is that the legislation that Democrats are proposing in Congress would not have stopped the Parkland shooting, it wouldn’t have stopped any of the mass shootings we have had in Florida," Gaetz said in an interview with Spectrum News.
However, Democrats intend to move forward with universal background check legislation in the House of Representatives.
“It has the support of over 90 percent of the American people. It will help save lives," said Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Florida), who represents the region in which the mass shooting happened last year.
After Parkland, Sen. Rick Scott enacted sweeping gun changes while still serving as Florida Governor. The Senator invited Andrew Pollack, who lost his daughter Meadow in the mass shooting, to the State of the Union Address.
However, he doesn't think universal background checks are the answer to curbing gun violence.
“My view of the world is, focus on the people that are having mental problems and make sure they don’t have access to any weapons, including guns," Sen. Rick Scott (R) Florida said in an interview with Spectrum News.
While gun-control measures are likely to win approval in the House, they face strong headwinds in the Republican-controlled Senate. Now lawmakers from the Sunshine State in the House are looking to their counterparts in the upper Chamber to take action.
“It's now up to the Senate, Sen. Rubio and Sen. Scott. My constituents are their constituents, and I hope that they listen to them," Deutch said.
Many Florida Democrats and Republicans support passing red flag laws on the federal level that would make it easier for law enforcement to take guns away from dangerous people.