DENVER – Sandy and Lonnie Phillips were in Colorado this week, but they weren’t among the hundreds who came out for the vigil marking the 10-year milestone of the mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora.
“It would have been too much,” Sandy Phillips said.
Their 26-year-old daughter, Jessica Ghawi, an aspiring sportscaster raised in San Antonio, was among the 12 victims killed that night.
A decade ago, Aurora had been considered one of the nation’s worst mass shootings.
Their initial contact with a few of the victims’ families in Uvalde was brief, long enough to let them know Survivors Empowered has a survivors toolkit available to them.
“We try to get that into their hands as quickly as possible because those who have had that early on seem to do much better in their re-entry into society, if you will,” Phillips said.
But at the heart of its mission, Phillips said, is trying to reduce gun violence.
A decade after Aurora, how far has America come?
Phillips said time and again, “Everything in the gun violence prevention world seems to be one step forward and three steps back.”
An example, she said, is the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling giving people the right to carry “commonly used firearms” in public for personal safety.
Yet President Biden did sign a law that was the first significant gun safety legislation in nearly 30 years.
Even so, Phillip said, “I’m not happy with them, but I am happy that they addressed trafficking and ghost guns.”
She said in order to stop the carnage, “We have to have big, bold legislation,” such as banning assault weapons.”
In addition, Phillips said, a law must be repealed, which “pretty much gives complete immunity to the gun industry.”
Even so, Phillips said she and the movement of gun violence prevention activists and advocates, aren’t giving up.
She said, “We feel a little bit like David and Goliath on a daily basis, but we know how that story ended.”