Rep Jamie Raskin has compared modern-day America to ancient civilisations that “practiced human sacrifice” as “innocent children” are sacrificed every day to the nation’s “bogus” reading of the Second Amendment.
The Democratic congressman spoke during a House Oversight Committee hearing on Wednesday morning where mass shooting victims, survivors and witnesses spoke out following a string of massacres including in the racist attack in Buffalo, New York, and school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
“In the history of our species, a number of civilians have practiced or allowed human sacrifice including the sacrifice of children,” he said.
“The Carthaginians, the Mesopotamians, the Incas, the Aztecs,” he listed.
“Will we be recorded as such as society that accepts the sacrifice of innocence?”
In his impassioned speech, Mr Raskin questioned whether his fellow lawmakers were willing to continue to accept the “slaughter” of innocent children by refusing to pass common-sense gun reform.
“Will we continue to accept the slaughter of innocence including innocent children as acceptable collateral damage for loyalty to a completely bogus and distorted misreading of the Second Amendment and what the Supreme Court said about it?” he asked.
The Maryland lawmaker told the hearing attendees that gun violence is the number one cause of death for children in the US today.
This sobering statistic makes the country “globally unique” to other Western nations, despite other countries dealing with the same challenges around mental illness, he said.
“We have gun violence and gun deaths 20 times higher than other industrialised nations like France, the UK, Israel, Norway, Sweden, Japan,” he said.
“No other nation comes close to what we see here even though we have comparable mental health problems and mental illness.”
The lawmaker also reeled off a list of communities that have been torn apart by gun violence in recent years, saying “the bloodbath continues”.
Among the list was the shooting in a Tops Friendly Market grocery store in Buffalo on 14 May, where 10 Black people were shot dead by a self-proclaimed racist and white supremacist.
The 18-year-old gunman was able to legally purchase an AR-15 and body armour before he drove to the predominantly Black neighbourhood and opened fire innocent shoppers, shooting 13 victims.
The massacre came just 10 days before 19 young students aged just nine to 11 years old and two teachers were shot and killed in a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
Days after that, four people were murdered in a mass shooting at a hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
In all three cases, AR-15s were used and the shooters bought the weapons legally.
Dozens more Americans have also been killed in mass shootings across the country in recent weeks.
The House Committee on Oversight and Reform convened Wednesday’s hearing as Democrats and Republicans are once again debating gun control measures and calls are growing for tighter gun legislation to stop the gun violence epidemic.