2022 - 04 DC Press Release


April 11, 2022

Survivors Empowered

Contact: Penny Okamoto, (503) 984-4152
[email protected]

Sandy and Lonnie Phillips—founders of Survivors Empowered—thank President Biden
for his continued work to cut gun violence and call for further action

WASHINGTON, D.C.-- April 11, 2022   Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, whose daughter was killed at the 2012 Aurora Theater shooting, were at the White House today to witness an important move forward in the work against gun violence. The Phillipses, who founded the non-profit Survivors Empowered, thank President Biden and Vice President Harris for their continued efforts to stop the proliferation of illegal firearms and cut gun violence. 

At the Rose Garden Press Conference the Phillipses attended, President Biden and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco announced that the U.S. Department of Justice has issued a final rule on the manufacturing and sale of unserialized firearm kits, commonly known as ghost guns.

The DOJ final rule bans the manufacturing of the most accessible ghost guns, including unserialized “buy build shoot” kits that can be purchased online or at a store without a background check. The rule clarifies that these kits qualify as “firearms” under the 1968 Gun Control Act; therefore, commercial manufacturers of these kits must be licensed firearm dealers and run background checks on purchasers before a sale. Furthermore, the kits must include serial numbers on the frame or receiver.

Additionally, President Biden nominated former Ohio U.S. Attorney Steve Dettelbach to serve as Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. “The ATF needs a strong director who will stand up for common sense rules,” said Lonnie.

The Phillipses founded Survivors Empowered to help survivors of mass violence after their 24-year-old daughter, Jessi Redfield Ghawi, was fatally shot at the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting. The Aurora theater shooter used 4,000 rounds of ammunition, including a 100 round drum magazine, during the mass shooting in which he fatally shot 12 people and injured 70 others.

“We appreciate the start today represents, but hope President Biden will do more than call for a ban on military-style assault firearms and high-capacity magazines,” said Sandy Phillips. “Our Jessi was slaughtered by six bullets, just six of thousands the shooter had available. We must stop this preventable violence now.”

Today’s press conference at the White House is one of two dozen scheduled stops for the Phillipses as they make their way across the United States on their national Honor With Action Tour to lift up the voices of survivors and to mark the passing of ten years since their daughter was fatally shot. The tour will last through the fall and include an event in Aurora, Colorado in July to remember and honor Jessi and everyone killed or injured at the theater that terrible day almost ten years ago and everyone who lives with the grief and pain of violence. 

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Survivors Empowered is an organization founded by Sandy and Lonnie Phillips after the slaughter of their daughter, Jessica Redfield Ghawi and eleven others in the Aurora Colorado Theater Mass Shooting in 2012.  Their original non-profit, Jessi’s Message, has grown into Survivors Empowered - a national organization created By Survivors, For Survivors, Empowering Survivors.







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