This post was written and reported by freelance contributor Darlena Cunha through our new Daily Kos freelance program.

“Vote them out, vote them out!” Nearly 100 people gathered in the stifling Florida sun July 27 at high noon outside a local politician’s office to hear the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School talk of survival, gun regulation, and future change that can only happen if people vote.

As a parent, it’s a scary thought. My husband and I had just finished giving our twin 9-year-old daughters their third “here’s what to do in a shooting” talk, since they’re already preparing to go back to school, which starts here on Aug. 13.

“If you hear shots, and you are outside or near a door and can get outside, you run. Run as far and as fast as you can, into the woods,” my husband said. “If you can’t get outside, you hide as best as you can. The point is to get away.”

“What if we get lost?” the girls asked.

“Just run, don’t worry about that part. We will find you. Just get as far away from the bullets as you can.”

Growing up pre-Columbine, I never had to worry about lockdown drills, which are now a normal occurrence at my children’s elementary school. I’m thankful they’re back in the school proper, where they at least have room to move. Last year, they spent their days in one-room portable classes, outside the school building proper. These rooms are just little rectangles, with one door in and out. If a shooter walked around to the back and opened fire, the kids would be sitting ducks in there.

In a city where I’ve been phone surveyed about buying bulletproof backpacks, and in a state where arming teachers has become a real possibility, I knew my family was not alone when I looked out into the crowd.

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