On Wednesday, as pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol, forcing members of Congress to take cover under their desks before being evacuated, Mollie Davis was reminded of high school.
When she was a senior, Davis, now 20, survived the 2018 shootings at Great Mills High School in Great Mills, Maryland, where Jaelynn Willey, 16, was killed and Desmond Barnes, then 14, was shot in the leg.
"It brought back all of those feelings from sheltering in place and stuff," Davis said. "I feel so bad for all the people that were forced to shelter in place, because that's traumatizing, and that's going to cause trauma that lasts. ... That's going to impact them for the rest of their lives."
Davis joined a growing chorus of social media users Thursday saying they hope that having experienced the rioting — which left five people dead and forced members of Congress to shelter in place — leads lawmakers to think more critically about school shootings and gun reform and maybe even leads to the passage of gun control legislation.
"Seeing fearful members of Congress barricaded in their offices is reminiscent of what happens during a school shooting. I hope they remember the terror they felt next time they have a chance to support gun safety," tweeted Dr. Abbie Guttenberg Youkilis, whose niece Jamie Guttenberg was killed in the shootings at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018.
One person tweeted that "now Senators know what it's like for kids who experience school shootings"; another wrote that she hoped lawmakers would "remember the fear they felt" Wednesday the next time they consider gun reform legislation.
On TikTok, users suggested that Congress use the same tools they were taught to use in school to keep safe.
"dear congress, just lock the door, turn off the lights, and huddle in the corner. idk [I don't know] maybe they will just move on to the next room. sincerely, the k-12 american student body," TikTok user @AngelaHolmessss wrote.
The video, posted late Wednesday, had racked up more than 2.4 million views by Thursday evening.
Kayla Young, 32, a newly elected Democratic member of the West Virginia House of Delegates, said her son started doing school shooting drills at age 5.
"I was in school when Columbine happened, and I was an adult when Sandy Hook happened, and just to think we're in the same place we were then and that Congress hasn't really ever taken action on any sort of legislation is really scary, especially now as the parent to young children in the public school system," Young said.
Young said she hopes the events of Wednesday inspire Congress to take gun legislation and school shootings more seriously.
"After Sandy Hook and seeing 20 children that were in elementary school gunned down, I thought there would be change then, and I hope that this happening to them personally — I hate that that's what it takes — but I do hope that some change will eventually come from this," Young said.
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Young and Davis said they were optimistic that the Biden administration would take gun reform seriously.
Davis, who works with Not My Generation, a gun violence prevention advocacy group, said she met with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in 2018 and feels reassured that she takes protecting America's youth from school shootings seriously.
"I have a lot more hope going forward than I've had for the past two years," Davis said.