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“I don’t think there’s a single one of us who saw what happened to her who could possibly have believed that she could survive. I certainly never dreamed I would ever be able to experience Gabby Giffords on TV speaking to the country.”

The survivors said they have not met with Giffords since the shooting. They have suffered as well over the months with the physical and mental wounds from that day.

“Unless you’ve been in a war or something of that nature, you can’t even grasp how terrible it is to hear the screams and the whole thing of people dying around you,” said Mavy Stoddard, whose husband, Dorwan, was killed as he shielded her from gunshots. ” It’s been very hard, but I’m continuing as best as I can to help people and that’s what we need to do.”

Patricia Maisch, who helped disarm the gunman, said the group of survivors hopes that Giffords will be able to return to Congress, if that’s what she wants.

“I would love to have her run again, but whatever works for Gabby is what I want for Gabby,” Maisch said.

The survivors and family members spoke with The Associated Press shortly before Giffords‘ staff gave them a tour of the Capitol. The group will be visiting offices on Capitol Hill to lobby for the legislation, which they understand is unlikely to pass in the current Congress.

“If you don’t risk, you never win, and we’re not going to let the shooter win,” Stoddard said.

The man arrested at the shooting, Jared Loughner has pleaded not guilty to 49 charges stemming from the Jan. 8 shooting. He’s being forcibly medicated with psychotropic drugs at a Missouri prison in an effort to make him mentally competent to stand trial.