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Turning pain into action: Jan. 8 survivor talks about coping with mass shootings

Posted at 5:13 PM, Aug 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-06 14:18:25-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — The scenes of mass shootings have become all too familiar to Americans. The heavy law enforcement presence, people rushing out of buildings, and holding loved ones tight. And there's the many memorials and vigils that form in the days that follow.

Pam Simon knows what this trauma is like firsthand. She was wounded in the chest and arm in the January 8 shooting in Tucson.

Simon was in Washington, D.C. at the time of the shooting, advocating for gun reform, when the shootings happened in El Paso and Dayton.

The weekend was supposed to be about celebrating the organization's work, but plans quickly changed.

"It was like a punch to the gut to all of us," Simon said.

She said there's a sad irony about it all.

"It's the same sad irony that the shooter in January 8 was a student in the school where I taught," Simon said. "The thing is, in America, we should not keep having these horrible ironic situations."

Survivors of mass shootings often feel immense guilt. But Simon says she's met a lot of people who have turned tremendous pain into determination, to make sure the same horrible event doesn't happen to anybody else.

"You can't just sit in that place," Simon said. "You have to decide, am I going to stay here wondering why I am still here, or am I going to use this time on earth to make a difference? And that's what I have chosen, and what so many survivors in the survivor network have chosen."