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AFP
People visit a makeshift memorial to 19 children and two teachers who were killed in a shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas

Washington (AFP) – Survivors of recent mass shootings in America and relatives of people killed in them pleaded with lawmakers Wednesday to ban the powerful assault weapons used in those massacres.

“I want you to picture my face, my husband’s face, as we read our daughter’s death certificate,” said a tearful Kimberly Rubio, whose daughter Lexi was killed in a shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas on May 24. 

A total of 19 children and two teachers died in the attack in Texas by a young gunman armed with a military-style semiautomatic rifle.  

Rubio was one of a group of people touched forever by such violence who gathered outside the US Capitol on Wednesday.

“There is one question that should be on the forefront of their minds,” Rubio said of US lawmakers. “What if the gunman never had access to an assault weapon?”

A video released Tuesday shows the gunman walking calmly into Robb Elementary School in Uvalde before he heads to two classrooms and starts shooting. It shows how police milled around in hallways for more than an hour until they finally moved in and killed the gunman. 

The video has infuriated the parents of kids who were killed in the massacre.

“Our country has a problem, a big problem,” said Abby Brosio, who survived a mass shooting in Highland Park outside Chicago on July 4.

That time a gunman with a semi-automatic rifle and shooting from a rooftop on an Independence Day parade killed seven people and wounded more than 30.

In 1994 Congress passed a 10-year ban on assault rifles and certain high-capacity magazines. But lawmakers let it expire in 2004 without renewing the ban and sales of those weapons have soared since then.

After the Uvalde shooting, President Joe Biden appealed to lawmakers to again ban assault rifles or at least raise the minimum age for buying them from 18 to 21.

But Republican lawmakers, who see such a restriction as going against the constitutional right to bear arms, refused to go along with Biden’s proposal.