Congressman Barber, local author talk reform following Ft. Hood shooting

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Congressman Barber, local author talk reform following Ft. Hood shooting

By Cory Marshall. CREATED Apr 5, 2014

TUCSON(KGUN9-TV) - Wednesday's Ft. Hood shooting  brought back a flood of emotions for January 8 shooting survivor Congressman Ron Barber. His first thought was for the families, recalling back to 2011, when his wife and daughters received the same call.

"We always say this is the last one. We hope so but unfortunately not. It seems like they're happening with even greater frequency and it means that we really in Congress and across the country need to take whatever steps we can to prevent future shootings like this," Congressman Barber told 9OYS.

The Congressman continues passionately pushing for mental health awareness, working to ensure early identification and treatment of the mentally ill. The Congressman says restoring the billions cut to mental health services across the country over the last few years is a place to start.

"I'm very disappointed that we haven't done more. I think that congress' inaction, particularly on the mental health piece, is really hard to explain," Barber continued. "My job is to keep a constant voice out there about the need for services and treatment."

Retired Tucson Police officer Mike Widmer shares the same sentiment, having recently written the book, "Intervention," a fictional narrative delving in the mind of would-be mass shooters.

"I wanted the dialogue to begin [and to] start talking about it again," Widmer said, who tells 9OYS, the book is fiction for a reason.

"You can't pull up, drudge up specific incidents and capitalize on them without hurting people's feeling" Widmer explained. "Yes, it's fiction but what I put in the first page is a fictional story about a very real epidemic and it is an epidemic."

The 35-year police veteran says the story line is based on his own personal experience and research. However, Widmer says mental health treatment isn't enough. The end of his book outlines steps to ensure school safety.

"They're going to have to make construction changes if they want to stop this. They're going to have to make a real effort to have cameras being monitored live so you can watch the approach of a person and those kind of things are going to have to be done if you want to stop this."

To this day, Barber is convinced had January 8 gunman, Jared Loughner, received adequate mental health treatment, the shooting would never have happened.

The Congressman also clarifies that not all who are mentally ill are inclined to violence. He says we need to be more proactive with treatment the small handful that will, getting them the treatment they need.