“It’s a very weird situation as a gun violence survivor and a school shooting survivor, and wanting lawmakers to understand that feeling to get work done and laws passed,” she told CNN. “But the entire situation… It’s a lot.
“The goal is to decrease the amount of people that experience what I experienced,” said Eastmond, who has testified before Congress twice, lobbied for legislation, and participated in last summer’s racial justice movement. “I’m glad [lawmakers] understand the fear and the feeling, but the situation in which caused them to feel that, it really infuriates me.”
Young adults who grew up amid shootings and lockdown drills have shared this week that lawmakers at the Capitol on Wednesday — many of whom have resisted action on gun violence — now have experience dealing with the trauma students face.
These young people say the experience should help lawmakers understand — but they also say legislative change won’t come immediately, if at all.
“A real reality for many teens in America”
Mariah Cooley was at her high school during a lockdown in winter 2018.
Cooley, who attended Rich Woods High School in Peoria, Illinois, had witnessed lockdowns before. But this time was different, since someone had a gun in the building, she said.
“In those moments I felt so afraid, I started texting my parents to let them know what’s going on,” Cooley described. “I was on the second floor thinking, ‘Can I jump from this window, hide in the closet?’ That’s a real reality for many teens in America because the government has failed to put policies in place to stop these shootings at our schools.”
While the lockdown ended without casualties, the experience had a lasting impact on Cooley, she says.
Cooley was once again fearful watching the lockdown at the Capitol and sympathized with lawmakers and their families.
“I hope [lawmakers] realize how much trauma high school Americans and middle school kids go through, not necessarily every single day, but more often than every other nation worldwide,” Cooley said.
‘A part of everyday life as a child’
“Politicians always mourned with their communities, but always kind of knew it wouldn’t happen to them,” Murdock told CNN after the Capitol insurrection. “In America, politicians have certain privileges.
“I’m mourning the fact that our country has become a place where our politicians have to hide in fear,” Murdock said. “But it was displaying to me something I already knew when it comes to control and distribution of widespread use of guns.”
Both Jaclyn Corin and Cameron Kasky, who also survived Parkland, say they feel similarly.
“When I see pictures going all over social media of senators and representatives in the House ducking under those chairs and hiding out in their offices… it is kind of weird seeing adults in suits doing that when I’m so used to seeing young kids doing that,” Corin told CNN.
Kasky said, “Mitch McConnell and my sixth-grade sister now have something in common.”