by Amanda Pohl
As a former chaplain who trained at a level one trauma center and served my community in crisis, I know what happens when gun violence victims arrive in the emergency rooms. As I read the reports pour in from Virginia Beach on Friday, I was taken back to those days. I remember the hands I held of those who were about to be rushed to surgery as they wanted a prayer or asked me to tell a family member they loved them. I also remember the ones who arrived at the hospital too late.
There are a few that stand out and still haunt me. Most were young people whose lives were cut short because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
There is nothing more heartbreaking than the sacred moments of being with a family when a loved one has died – and nothing more senseless than that reason being gun violence.
As part of the team that responded to these trauma calls, I bore witness to the aftermath of violence. It had an immediate effect on me personally. I could no longer watch any fictional violence on television – I was living enough of it in real life.
I held the families of the victims as they seized or fainted in my arms. I was there when they needed someone to scream at. I held space for silence and tears when there were no words left to say.
As a mom, I spend time telling my children how to protect themselves from active shooters because our government refuses to limit weapons of mass destruction from perpetrators of violence. The onus should not be on people in schools and at work to survive while we do nothing to prevent terrorist attacks in our ordinary lives.
This is the lens from which I view the gun violence that affects our community so deeply.
There are steps we can take that resonate with people from all walks of life, across all political spectrums – steps that some of our politicians have chosen to ignore in favor of special interest money lining their political coffers. The time for action is long overdue; since we cannot change their minds, we must change who represents us.
As a Moms Demand Action Gun Sense Candidate, I have demonstrated that I will be a voice for the 96% of people who support background checks on anyone seeking to purchase a gun and 91% of people who favor keeping guns out of the hands of those who might hurt themselves or others.
My heart continues to be with the victims, their families, the first and second responders, the survivors, and the community who was greatly affected in Virginia Beach. My work will continue to be in the 11th District fighting and problem-solving, so we never have to experience this again.