The night of the shooting in Aurora, Colo., Ahwatukee Foothills mom and lawyer Ellen Davis had enough.
“My son was 21 at the time,” Davis said. “I knew he and his friends went to the midnight premier. It’s geared for teenagers and 20-somethings starting their lives. When I first heard the news I knew that young men like my son had been killed. I practice law, but I’m also a mom. You spend so many hours going to sporting events, doing homework, driving them places and all the things you do to be the best parent you can be. You spend all this time trying to make this young man into something and to imagine him going to the movies and somebody opens fire on him with an assault weapon — it was just too much.”
The commentary Davis said she heard on the news was that nothing could be done and that wasn’t good enough to her. She went online to signon.org and started a petition. The wording is simple: “Congress should reinstate the federal ban on assault weapons.”
Now that petition has more than 120,000 signatures, and with the help of gun violence victims Davis delivered the petition to Sen. Jeff Flake’s office in Phoenix on April 5.
“To me it’s very personal,” said Tom Teves, an Ahwatukee Foothills resident and father of Alex Teves, who was killed during the shooting in Aurora. Teves stood with his wife, Caren, outside Flake’s office and shared the story of his son’s death.
“I went to the hearing in Denver and spent three days while they talked about the evidence they had on this coward. The fact is my son was a very athletic kid … this kid was not at all without resources when it came to protecting himself … This weapon that this coward used, and he was in the front of the theater, sprayed so many bullets that in a 911 tape in 20 seconds we heard 31 shots,” he said.
Teves said his son was in the 18th row of the theater, but the shooter was able to keep everyone down as he walked up the aisle and shot down the rows. Because of his son’s courage to protect his fiancé, Alex was shot in the head.
“There’s no way he (James Holmes) would have been in that position if he didn’t have one of these assault rifles,” Teves said. “He wouldn’t have been able to move fast enough if he didn’t have one of these assault rifles ... I would ask especially Sen. Flake to sit down at the dinner table tonight and erase one of those children in your mind and tell me you wouldn’t vote yes.”
Sandy Phillips, who also lost a child during the shooting in Aurora, came to support the Teves family and tell her story. Phillips was texting her daughter, Jessica Redfield Ghawi, just as the movie started and moments before the shooting broke out. Her daughter’s friend called her from the theater just as the shooting ended. At the time she could still hear screaming in the background as she was told, “There’s been a random shooting. I tried and I’m sorry.”
“We’re here to tell all of America to get off your butts,” Phillips said. “Make a phone call to your senators and your congressmen. We know you are in favor of these sensible reforms. Please take a moment and have your voices heard so that no other mother or father has to join us on this painful path.”
Davis said she was surprised at the level of security at Flake’s office. There were multiple levels of bulletproof glass to pass through in order to turn in the petition — something she found ironic.
Because her petition has garnered so much support, Davis gathered a group of concerned residents and together they formed Arizona People Acting for a Safer Society or AZPASS. AZPASS is calling for background checks, banning assault weapons as suggested by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, banning high capacity magazines and making “straw” purchases of guns illegal.
“We want to make it harder to wage war on random people,” Davis said.
Flake was not immediately available for comment.
For more information on AZPASS, visit azpass.org.
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