Meet the Press   |  September 22, 2013

Aurora victim's family discuss fight to reduce gun violence

Sandy Phillips, mother of Aurora, Colo., shooting victim Jessica Ghawi, makes the case for tougher gun laws in the United States.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> heard from wayne lapierre of the nra. i want to turn to sandy phillips. she has become an activist for gun control when her daughter, just 21 years old, was shot when james holmes shot her and other members of the public. s this week, one week after the navy yard shooting, she was in washington for more lobbies on gun restriction. thank you for being with us.

>> thank you.

>> when you were here and heard what happened at the navy yard , can you describe your reaction to it?

>> david, any time you've been a victim of gun violence like we have, when you hear news like that, it takes you back to what happened when you heard your news. we got our news in the middle of the night from a young man who was with our daughter who called me 20 minutes after the theater shooting. he told me with screaming going on in the background that our daughter was dead. we found out she was shot six times and her brains were blown out. jesse lying on that cold theater floor is the vision i wake up with every morning and go to bed with every night. and now they're 12 more victims' families that go through the same thing. i wish i could tell them it gets easier, but it doesn't.

>> and now you and your husband are trying to get gun restrictions to prevent these kinds of massacres. you heard wayne lapierre . the nra has been successful in blocking many of those efforts. i asked him, is the gun debate over? do you feel all we're left to do is sort of wait for the next one to happen now?

>> it took six votes over seven years to get the initial brady law passed, and sara and jim brady didn't give up. those of us who are involved, and unfortunately, our numbers are growing, we're not giving up. it will happen. we need to expand those background checks so this kind of thing doesn't continue to happen. we need to give our law enforcement the tools that they need to get that job done.

>> but do you agree with any element of what he said? is more security the answer on bases, for example, or in other public places ?

>> more guns, that's certainly not the answer. more guns, more people that may be triggered by violence, predispositioned to it, anyway, just muddies the issue.

>> what is the most respect active response to a series of massacres where mental health seems to be the centerpiece? what's the means to stop them when we know violence is everywhere?

>> the worst part of this, in my opinion, is with expanded background checks , we're going to close a lot of those gaps in our system, especially on-lane sales and the gun show loopholes that still exist. if you can do that, then it doesn't matter if someone is not as, shall i say -- if they're predisposed to violence, if you can stop that and have that put into the system, the system can only work as well as what's put into the system. so, yes, we have to look at the entire comprehensive approach. but with the background checks , that's the first step. and 90% of americans want them and over 70% of lapierre's members want them. so it's not a hard fix.

>> just a couple seconds left. your advice to those who are going through the grief you went through after this shooting?

>> my heart breaks for them. again, i'd like to say it's something that eases in time. their lives are never going to be the same. i hope that they choose to get involved with us, but that takes time. hopefully there won't be a whole lot more people joining us on this path.

>> sandy phillips, thank you swre very much for being here. i'm sorry for your loss that unfortunately you have to relive during times like this, but i appreciate your time this morning.

>> thank you very much.