22 Jul 2016

Voices: Guns are why my family left the U.S.

I didn’t think I would ever experience feelings like I did on the morning we left Ireland last summer.

My wife clutched our 6-week-old son as I loaded our unending procession of suitcases onto the belt at Dublin airport. I could feel the sweat on my brand new shirt, but not from exertion. This was anxiety. Finally, we were about to realize the goal that was the result of three years planning.

We are both practicing obstetricians, born and bred in Ireland, and babies are our business. We had been afforded the enviable opportunity to spend a year working in New York City at Columbia University. I was to carry out research in patient safety while my wife was completing a fellowship in fetal medicine.

Everything was in place. We had a hotel for the night of our arrival before we moved into our one-bed apartment on 89th street. We even had a nanny coming for an interview a few days later.

The past year has been the most invigorating, thrilling and, at times, difficult experience for both of us. We have loved the buzz of the city, people’s brash attitude and the feeling that you are a real New Yorker. Even the extremes in the weather have been new and exciting.

Many times we have considered a life here. We would undoubtedly have financial and academic opportunities superior to those in Ireland. Our son and any children we are lucky enough to welcome in the future would grow up as Americans. They would be part of a diverse society and have educational, employment and earning opportunities seldom seen in Europe.

They would have the potential for lives that Irish people of my parents’ generation could only have dreamed.

The decision to return to Ireland at the end of our contracts was a close call on all fronts. But one consideration made it cut and dry. We steadfastly refuse to raise our family in a society where instruments designed to do nothing but bring pain, misery and death are freely available to virtually all: Guns.

We woke last month to yet another example of an attack on innocent people — this time a mass shooting in Orlando — by a single gunman who had enough firepower to kill and injure dozens who left their homes to do nothing more than have a good time.

As an Irish immigrant of 10 months I should know nothing about the towns of San Bernardino, Calif.; Blacksburg, Va.; or Newtown, Conn. But they are each a reason why I would never raise my family in this country. It is simply not good enough that somebody with an excuse as insignificant as a bad day can decide to leave their home and use legally bought weapons to kill as many people as possible.

I do not care how entrenched the right to bear arms is in the history of this nation and how complex the political negotiations will be to remove guns from American society. Until this happens, these attacks will continue and innocent people, many of whom have never seen or handled a gun, will die.

Read more about it here: http://usat.ly/2a5MnwB

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