Ruth Whitfield’s son, a 86-year old woman who was shot and killed by a gunman in Buffalo, New York. Whitfield challenged Congress Tuesday to take action against “cancer of White supremacy” as well as the nation’s epidemic gun violence.

As lawmakers work tirelessly to reach a bipartisan agreement regarding gun safety measures after back-to-back mass shootings, Garnell Whitfield Jr.’s emotional testimony is a welcome development. A semi-automatic rifle-wielding 18-year old gunman opened fire in Uvalde Texas, killing 19 schoolchildren and two teachers, ten days after Whitfield Jr’s mother was killed in New York.

“What are your plans?” Whitfield Jr. stated to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, “You were elected to protect our country.”

He asked, “Is there anything that you personally would do to end the cancer of white supremacy? And the domestic terrorism it inspires?” Respectfully, senators, if there is nothing, then you should give up your authority and influence to those who are willing to take on this matter.”

This hearing is the first in a series of two scheduled for this week. Families of victims and survivors from the mass shootings at Buffalo and Uvalde will be present at Capitol Hill public hearings and events to highlight the human toll of gun violence in America and to urge Congress to take action.

The President Joe Biden and Sen. Chris Murphy met Tuesday to try to reach a deal. Murphy is a key Democratic negotiator who spent most of his career trying curb the nation’s mass shooting scourge. He was referring to the tragic killing of 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut 10 years ago.

Murphy said to reporters that he was thankful for the opportunity to update President Obama on the talks. He stated that “Obviously, we still have work to do in Senate.”

Murphy stated that his goal was to reach an agreement this week. However, he also said that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had been clear that “we need extra time to cross the ts that will get it.”

On Tuesday, Matthew McConaughey (an actor from Uvalde) made rounds of the Senate offices on Capitol Hill before heading to Washington to open the daily briefing. McConaughey gave a passionate speech about the importance of legislating to “make the loss of these life matter”, which he had earlier considered running for governor of Texas.