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Feb 22, 2013 1:04 AM by Sam Salzwedel

Jan. 8 victim and lawmakers talk about gun control

TUCSON - Lawmakers and a January 8th shooting survivor talked to about 75 people about gun violence.

The Foothills Democratic Forum organized the event Thursday night at Skyline Country Club.

Pam Simon was wounded in the Tucson mass shooting in 2011. She has been travelling the country and lobbying for gun control.

"To be part of the change is very healing," Simon said, "and to meet other survivors of gun violence only reinforces my desire to see something change."

Of all the proposals, Simon thinks universal background checks are the most feasible.

"We shouldn't be selling guns to criminals," she said, "and that can happen if you don't put them through a background check."

Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik and Arizona State Representative Victoria Steele also talked at the forum.

Cities like Tucson are not allowed to pass laws that are stricter than state laws. Steele has introduced a bill that would change that. She says no committee will even hear a bill restricting guns.

"That's not going to happen," Steele said. "This is really frustrating, but we can't give up."

Steele cosponsored a bill that helps fund "mental health first aid." Thursday, she emphasized she does not want people thinking mental health and violence are always related.

The speakers also talked about issues like suicide and gun accidents. Kozachik offered free gun locks to people in the crowd and said there are more available at his Ward Office.

Ken Rineer is the President of Gun Owners of Arizona. He thinks there are ways to enforce current regulations without restricting the rights of gun owners who follow the law.

"It's the person behind the pistol that causes the problem," he said. "The firearm itself is the easy target rather than looking at the real problem with the issue."

Rineer does not think all private gun sales between 2 people should require a background check. Most gun sales require a check, but Rineer said the data is incomplete.

"The system itself is broken," Rineer said, "you have mental health records that are supposed to be added to it, yet they aren't getting added."

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