Buffalo, N.Y.’s historical Eastside has been in a state of rebuilding for the past 15 years. However, with the added tragedy from the Buffalo Mass Shooting, the community is reeling from the impacts of gun violence and lack of resources as the people do everything they can to keep the area afloat and hopeful. One of the area’s most prominent advocates has come from Garnell Whitfield Jr., the son of the 86-year-old Ruth Whitfield, who was killed during the tragic incident.
Taking his voice and fight to the nation’s lawmakers, Whitfield Jr. appeared before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, urging leaders to take a stand against white supremacy and domestic gun violence.
Former Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield, whose mother was killed in mass shooting: "You should yield your positions of authority and influence to others that are willing to lead on this issue. The urgency of the moment demands no less. My mother's life mattered." pic.twitter.com/WgGLroG8Pg
— CSPAN (@cspan) June 7, 2022
In the above clip, he passionately makes the opening statement during Tuesday’s (June 7) hearing. Speaking on behalf of the families impacted by the domestic terrorist attack, Garnell Whitfield Jr spoke out against the growing threat of white supremacy. He urged lawmakers to take action against the form of domestic terror.
As his speech continued, the ex-commissioner of the Buffalo Fire Department told the committee that he and the other victims’ families were “angry” at the lack of movement toward ending the senseless violence in Buffalo and other cities across the United States enacted by white supremacists.
“Do you expect us to continue just to forgive and forget over and over again?” he said. “And what are you doing? You’re elected to protect us, to protect our way of life,” Garnell Whitfield Jr pleaded with the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I ask every one of you to imagine the faces of your mothers as you look at mine and ask yourself, is there nothing that we can do? Is there nothing that you are willing to do to stop the cancer of white supremacy and the domestic terrorism it inspires?”
In light of the Buffalo and Ulvade school shooting, the House swiftly passed a gun control bill called the Protecting Our Kids Act on Wednesday (June 8) evening. Although the government’s response has additional judicial steps and negotiations before being signed into law, the new act aims to raise the age to purchase semiautomatic guns from 18 to 21, calls for parents to be sentenced to jail for up to 5 years if their minor is able to access a stored gun and injure or kill someone.
The bill would also make gun trafficking and buying a gun for another person illegal. The Washington Post reports: “It also would ban licensed dealers from selling guns with magazines that can hold more than 15 rounds of ammunition. And it would ban devices known as bump stocks, which make semiautomatic rifles shoot like rapid-fire machine guns, putting into law a regulatory ban.”