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WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – Lawmakers in Washington heard testimony on Wednesday from gun control advocates, including some from South Florida.

One week before the anniversary of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, students and family members packed a house hearing room as lawmakers considered expanding background checks for all gun sales.

Aalayah Eastmond appeared before the House Judiciary Committee investigating gun violence, taking lawmakers back to last Valentine’s Day at Stoneman Douglas, when her life changed forever.

“Next Thursday marks one year from the day that 17 of my fellow classmates and educators were shot and killed,” said Eastmond. “When the gunman shot into our classroom, Nicholas Dworet stood in front of me. The bullets killed him and Helena Ramsey. As Nicholas fell, I matched his every movement and hid under his lifeless body as bullets riddled my classmates…I thought I was going to die. As I laid there, I begged God to please make it fast.”

The group March For Our Lives tweeted photos of students crammed into the hearing room.

They did the wave early on but quickly got down to the business at hand.

When Republican congressman Matt Gaetz said building a wall was more effective than gun control, the father of Joaquin Oliver couldn’t stay silent.

Forty thousand Americans were killed by guns in 2017, an average of 34 lives lost a day.

Democrats, who now control the house, pointed out that gun violence was not mentioned during President Trump’s state of the union speech.

“I’m disappointed, that in his lengthy State of the Union address last night, President Trump did not see fit to even mention the need to protect our citizens from gun violence,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-NY.  “I am here to tell you a simple truth. Gun violence is such an epidemic that anyone anywhere at any time can be affected… rich or poor, white or black, young or old…all Americans are at risk and this is a side of America that none of us can or should take pride in.”

Eliott Rodriguez

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