Jessica Ghawi's mom accepts new anti-gun advocacy role

Mother of Aurora, Colo., shooting victim to work for Brady Campaign

Sandy Phillips' life has changed dramatically in the last six months after she lost her 24-year-old daughter, Jessica Ghawi, in the Aurora, Colo., movie theater massacre on July 20, 2012.

Next week, she'll begin a new career path that will both honor her daughter and push to make America safer from events like that happening again.

Phillips took a job with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, where she will serve as a liaison for families who have lost loved ones to similar tragedies.

"It was a surprise. I was not looking for a job," said Phillips Wednesday afternoon. "I will be working with (the families), hearing their stories and asking them if they'd like to become more involved and getting them to become more involved in our work."

That work coincides with President Barack Obama's suggestions for changes to gun control laws, including closing loopholes such as the ones that exist with background checks at gun shows.

Her husband was with Vice President Joe Biden during task force meetings.

"This speaks to my heart as nothing else could ever speak to my heart again," she said. "You just realize you need to really commit and do everything you can to make a sensible change."

A gun-owner herself, Phillips said the battle is not about the 2nd Amendment but about public safety.

"By having a comprehensive plan, having background checks for everyone no matter where you buy your gun, whether it's a private sale, gun show or a shop," said Phillips. "If everybody has the same rules hopefully -- ideally -- that will start cutting down on illegal sales, it will start cutting down on gun trafficking and we'll be able to close gaps that are currently in the system."

Phillips' involvement in pushing for stricter laws began shortly after her daughter's death but began to gain more momentum after visiting with families of the Newtown school shooting.

It is a role she will continue have at a national level, reaching out to families, speaking at events and lobbying for tougher laws with politicians and the National Rifle Association.

"You would hope that whenever somebody says, 'We're willing to talk,' that they're actually willing to talk," she said, referring to the NRA. "But we haven't heard anything but the usual rhetoric so far. We're hoping that the court of public opinion will be such that they will come to table and say, 'OK, we can bend here, we can bend there.'"

In addition to her new job, Phillips is also working with the scholarship fund that was started shortly after Jessica's death.

They are close to their initial goal of raising $100,000.

It will eventually become a $10,000 scholarship awarded to one or two female junior or senior students who are working towards degrees in sports journalism or sports management.

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