Tucson survivors mark third anniversary of shooting

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

TUCSON, Ariz.--- Survivors of the 2011 Tucson shooting are marking the third anniversary of the tragedy on Wednesday.

"In some ways it seems like it was yesterday. In some ways it seems like 100 years ago. In some ways, it seems like a bad dream that never happened," Pam Simon, a former staffer of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, said Tuesday.

Simon survived being shot in the wrist and chest outside the Safeway store at Giffords' "Congress on Your Corner" event.

"So much has happened in the last 3 years," Daniel Hernandez, a former Giffords intern, added.

Hernandez applied pressure to Giffords' wounds, and helped save her life. He says this anniversary will be a bit different. "You reach a point where you get frustrated and say, 'Enough of the vigils. Let's try to figure out how we can make something happen," Hernandez said.

As a group, the shooting survivors have focused on gun control. They say they are encouraged by changes like background checks ordered in some cities and states, but frustrated with lack of change on the federal level.

Several, like Patricia Maisch, have become outspoken against the NRA and the gun lobby. "Every time [NRA official] Wayne LaPierre opens his mouth, their true colors shine. It's the color of money with blood red fingerprints on it," Maisch said.

"We can protect the Second Amendment, and still keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people," she added.

While the shooting anniversary brings sadness and anger over the innocent people taken, the survivors say it's important for the public to reflect each year. They also lobby for more resources for mental health treatment. The Tucson gunman's mental illness went untreated.

"This tragedy would not have happened if we had things in place which would've made it possible for him to get the help and medication he needed," Simon said. Simon says the survivors do not regret approving the plea deal offered to shooter Jared Loughner.

It spared them from enduring a lengthy trial and possibly years of appeals. Simon says the deal, which locked Loughner away for life, allowed them to focus their energy and time on the issues they care about.