A survivor of the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting said on Friday that she was “very concerned” about Brett Kavanaugh’s views on guns and the assault weapons ban, as she implored senators to consider voting against the U.S. Supreme Court nominee.
Aalayah Eastmond, a witness for the Democratic minority in the Senate Judiciary Committee, urged senators at Friday’s confirmation hearings for Kavanaugh to weigh the nominee’s record on the Second Amendment, after delivering an emotional recounting of the Parkland shooting, which brought Sen. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, to tears.
“I am very concerned since learning Brett Kavanaugh’s views on guns, and how he would strike down any assault weapons ban,” Eastmond said. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School senior, who also lost an uncle to gun violence, stressed that gun violence “disproportionately impacts black and brown youth.”
Her testimony came after Democratic senators went after Kavanaugh on his views of the Second Amendment, zeroing in on his dissent in a 2010 case on a D.C. gun ban law. His dissent would have struck down the ban on semi-automatic rifles as unconstitutional.
During his confirmation hearings, he argued that he had not been detached from the real-world effects of gun violence—noting he grew up in D.C. area, at the time “a city plagued by gun violence”—and defended his interpretation of Supreme Court precedent.
Eastmond also referred to images that have captured social media: a picture and video of an encounter between Kavanagh and Fred Guttenberg, the father of a Parkland shooting victim. Guttenberg tweeted Tuesday that Kavanaugh turned away from him at the day’s hearing, refusing to shake his hand after he introduced himself. (A White House staffer has disputed that account and said security intervened.)
Nevertheless on Friday, Eastmond raised the incident, stating, “If Kavanaugh doesn’t have decency to shake hands with the father of a victim, he definitely won’t have the decency to make life-changing decisions that affect white people.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, also asked Eastmond—who wore a T-shirt that read “Team Enough”—what she would say to Kavanaugh about assault weapons. (The senator, who choked up as he spoke to Eastmond, represents Connecticut, where the Sandy Hook massacre that killed 28, mostly children, took place in 2012.)
“That my life along with all of the other youth is more important than that gun,” Eastmond replied.
“If he said to you, there is this legal principle that says unless there was a ban or one analogous to it at the time of our constitution, or traditionally in our law, what you would say about the real impact of that kind of assault weapon on your life?” Blumenthal asked.
Eastmond replied that such an assault weapon was used to kill people in many of America’s recent gun massacres, including Parkland and Sandy Hook.
“He needs to listen to us because our lives are just as important as any American’s freedom to own a gun,” Eastmond said.