Executive order renews debate over red flag laws

Fight isn’t over for mother of mass shooting victim

SAN ANTONIO – If there had been red flag laws at the time, Sandy Phillips said her daughter and everyone else killed or wounded might have been spared during one of the nation’s worst mass shootings.

Jessica Ghawi, an aspiring 24-year-old sportscaster who worked in San Antonio, was among a dozen moviegoers killed in July 2012 at a theater in Aurora, Colorado.

The shooter, who also injured 70 other people that night, is now serving a life sentence.

“The whole thing could have been averted had somebody stepped in,” Phillips said.

She said the gunman’s family and his therapist were aware he had mental problems.

“He had told his therapist that he wanted to kill as many people as possible,” Phillips said.

Phillips said a red flag law would have allowed authorities to take his guns away temporarily, and he would not have been able to buy the AR-15 he used the night of the mass shooting.

Contrary to what Phillips said, many believe the guns would not be confiscated forever.

“It is taking them away until they are deemed safe for themselves and others,” Phillips said.

RELATED: President Biden tightens some gun controls, says much more needed

An executive order signed by President Joe Biden Thursday would create a model that states could use to enact red flag laws.

However, Phillips said she’s doubtful Texas will be one of them.

“It’s just obstinance and obstructionism,” Phillips said.

However, she said groups like hers, Survivors Empowered, and Moms Demand Action are not giving up.

Neither is the National Rifle Association, a longtime opponent of red flag laws that believes they infringe on the Second Amendment.

An NRA spokeswoman said red flag laws “could require law-abiding citizens to surrender lawful property and enable states to expand gun confiscation orders.”

She said the organization would fight President Biden’s “ill-conceived executive actions,” including red flag laws. Read the entire statement below:

“By appointing the anti-gun Merrick Garland as attorney general and nominating David Chipman — formerly a senior staffer at the leading gun control lobby — to head ATF, Biden has made clear his sights are set on restricting the rights of law-abiding gun owners while ignoring criminals and foregoing substantive measures that will actually keep Americans safe. Further, the proposals Biden announced yesterday could require law-abiding citizens to surrender lawful property and enable states to expand gun confiscation orders. The NRA will fight this nomination and ill-conceived executive actions.”

About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

Rick Medina is a Video News Editor at KSAT. A graduate of the University of Texas' prestigious Radio-Television-Film program, he has been in the news business for more than 20 years. Rick is also a documentary filmmaker, helming the award-winning film festival favorites, “The Opossum Begins” and “Amigoland.” He is originally from Brownsville.