January 8th shooting victim: "Not enough has been done" to prevent mass shootings

January 8th shooting victim: "Not enough has been done" to prevent mass shootings

CREATED Jul 22, 2012

Reporter: Valerie Cavazos

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -- 18 months ago, Pam Simon lay in her hospital bed with a bullet in her hip -- thinking -- could something positive come out of the January 8th tragedy.  And she shared her ideas with President Obama and the First Lady during a hospital visit, four days after the shooting.

"I had a conversation with the President and First Lady as a former teacher. And as a former school teacher in the same school that the gunman on January 8th had attended as a junior high and high school kid. And how teachers and educators need to have more preparation to identify serious mental illness," she said.

The president assured her -- then -- that the nation is working on ways to prevent these tragedies -- but she believes -- now -- not enough has been done.

"I think we have a long way to go," she said.

A long way, she believes, in getting people together to even talk about serious mental health issues. "I know from former conversations with my former principal, who was also Jared Loughner's principal that there's a breakdown in communication between education, law enforcement and mental health services," she said.

And a long way in figuring out how to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.

"If we are horrified and I am horrified that this young man was able to get a massive, massive amount of firearms and ammunition -- that if we want to make sure we have a safer society then we need to ask our elected officials to begin the conversation. Right now that conversation doesn't seem to be happening," she said.

Simon and other survivors plan to have a conversation with Attorney General Eric Holder in the near future to discuss the gun background check system -- and call on both President Obama and Mitt Romney to pledge to reform gun laws. Simon believes elected officials can take action and still protect the rights of lawful gun owners if common sense is used.

The group is also urging city leaders to join the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition, which is trying to prevent criminals from illegally obtaining guns and using them.