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American mom: 'Why I am marching for American gun control in Dublin'

As an American citizen, and as a parent, it’s hard to stay uninvolved in the gun control debate while we are abroad, writes Mary Farley.

Mary Farley Moms Demand Action

WITH THE REST of the world, I read the headlines from the United States about the Parkland, Florida school shooting with a mix of sadness and despair. It would be nice to say shock as well, but are any of us really shocked anymore to read about a mass shooting in America?

As an American living in Dublin, I find myself relieved to be across the ocean, removed by distance from the political upheaval and – especially – the guns.

But as an American citizen, and as a parent, it’s hard to stay uninvolved in the gun control debate while we are abroad. It feels personal, as our safety hinges on these laws.

‘Intruder drills’

When my oldest daughter was in Grade 1, parents could attend an information session about the “intruder drills” that would be taking place at her school.

The principal described what would happen – tense messages barked over the loudspeaker and students encouraged to “flee” across playing fields, teachers locking doors. We were told that students would be in classrooms when the drill started so nobody would be alone and frightened.

When my daughter – a tiny, spunky little girl – arrived home after the drill, she proudly told me she had spoken to a policeman that day. I calmly said, “Oh?”

As the story unravelled I realised she had been in a bathroom alone when the alarm sounded. She couldn’t find her class, so she wandered into the hallway, where a kind policeman directed her to join her class outside. They had run across a field to a meeting point. She was unphased. The story left me shaking.

A new urgency

That moment is only one of the reasons why I am so encouraged by the new urgency taking hold in the commonsense gun reform movement. Several Parkland students who survived the shooting are becoming important voices for their generation, and a new movement of activists is coalescing.

Teenagers who have been raised with regular news of school massacres are coming of age and able to speak up for their own safety. They have to, as we adults have failed them so badly.

These students, along with other teens, have banded together to organise the March for Our Lives. This 24 March event is intended to put politicians on notice that the public will no longer let them get away with inaction on gun reform.

We are demanding change, demanding legislation, demanding that the National Rifle Association no longer have a chokehold on the American government. The march will be in Washington, DC, but will be supported by events in cities across the US and across the globe.

The March for Our Lives: Dublin – Rally for American Gun Reform will take place on 24 March from 3pm to 5.30pm at the American Embassy in Ballsbridge. We invite everyone to come and join us in fighting for American gun reform. The close relationship between the US and Ireland gives us hope that although we are far away, support here will resonate in America.

Nothing happened to my daughter at that drill. She was simply excited about talking to a policeman. Yet I tried not to cry as I thought about the what-ifs. What if it had not been a drill? What if she ever does wander into a hallway where an intruder awaits?

As American parents, we have to learn not to think about the what-ifs, as they are too hard to bear.

Mary Farley is an American living in Dublin, and a member of the grassroots gun-reform organisation Moms Demand Action. More information on the March for Our Lives rally can be found at www.facebook.com/march4ourlivesdublin.

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Mary Farley  / Moms Demand Action

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