On Thursday, former California Rep. Katie Hill spoke out about the shooting at her alma mater Saugus High School in Santa Clarita. In the large, suburban public school, two teenagers were killed and three were injured and are being treated in area hospitals. A suspect is in custody and also being treated at a local hospital.
Hill, who resigned in late October amid accusations of relationships with subordinates, had said she plans to be more vocal and candid now that she's not bound by the protocols of Congress. She particularly promised to fight so-called "revenge porn" after her nude photos were leaked online. But her first opportunity to speak candidly ended up being a shooting that hit very close to home.
"Saugus High School was my home for my entire high school career," Hill said in a statement provided to Refinery29. "So many of our campaign volunteers and interns are students there, so many parents who are friends and supporters have children who they drop off there each and every day. My parents’ friends are continuing to wait in a nearby park as we speak to be reunited with their kids. No child should go to school and fear for their life, and yet when talking to students on the campaign trail and as their Congressperson, the message they sent was loud and clear: They weren’t worried about if a shooting would happen at their school. They were simply waiting for when."
Hill, who still lives in the community, described to CNN the "powerlessness" she felt as a freshman member of Congress who helped pass the House background checks bill — the first major gun bill in over 20 years — as well as legislation that would close the “boyfriend loophole” in the Violence Against Women Act, and one to fund research on gun violence. These bills, she said, would help prevent the endless mass shootings — but they have been left to languish on Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's desk.
"It's your worst nightmare," Hill told CNN. "What are we supposed to say at this point? We've passed the background checks, we've passed four different pieces of legislation that would make an immediate impact on reducing gun violence, and it's just sitting on Mitch McConnell's desk. ... It says to me with complete and utter clarity, we don’t have a choice but to flip the Senate and to get somebody in the White House who is going to make this a priority... If you think that the safety of our kids matters, then that's to me what needs to get you to the polls."
Hill, who herself is a gun owner, has long made it a point to speak out about gun safety in her community, which she told MSNBC has a higher number of gun owners than average.
"Right now, I'm in my backyard, I can hear the helicopters, I can hear the sirens... We're just devastated and really praying for people to recover," she told MSNBC.