Jessi was in her last year of study and wanted to be a sports journalist. She was feisty; she was pretty; she was an excellent writer. She had a charm and an enthusiasm about her that people were very, very drawn to. She was extremely funny and witty, and a lot of fun to be around.
Even as a baby, she collected people. They gravitated to her. She was the peacekeeper; she wanted everyone to be happy; and she had a very compassionate heart. That's who my daughter was. Jessi was also my biggest fan, and I was hers. She would tell her friends that I was her best friend. I miss that more than words could ever say.
Nobody wants to walk in these shoes. You do not want what happened to me to happen to you.
They went to the movie that night. We all know what happened. But what most people don't really know is that the killer was able to buy over 4,000 rounds of military-grade ammo, his vest, his protective gear, and his teargas on the internet with the click of a mouse. With no ID requirement, without any background checks.
Brent was also shot during that time. He realized Jessi had stopped screaming, and he saw what had happened to her. He's a paramedic, and so he knew that she was gone. There was no way that she could survive her wound. By that time, the shooting had stopped. He called me. Brent said, "There's been a shooting, a random shooting." I asked him if he was okay, and he said he had been shot. At that point, I started to panic because I realized he was calling me and not Jessi.
Jessi was also my biggest fan, and I was hers. She would tell her friends that I was her best friend. I miss that more than words could ever say.
The next morning, nobody had started showing up at the house yet. It was 5 in the morning, daybreak was just happening, and there was a very soft light coming in through the living room. I was curled up on the couch, and Lonnie, my husband, was standing at the door looking out and remembering Jessi at the patio table with her boyfriend just a few weeks before. In that moment, I spoke up and said: "You know we are going to get involved in this, right?" And he knew exactly what I meant. And he said, "I know." And we did.
We have been doing this ever since. We live on very little. We live out of our camper. We fortunately have good friends across the nation, and sometimes, we are able to leave the camper behind and stay with them. But this is our life. We're nomads for gun sense.
I was watching CNN on Friday when Donald Trump said that Hillary Clinton's Secret Service detail should "drop all weapons" and "see what happens to her." I felt such fear for Hillary Clinton. I also felt fear for our country, because what he was saying was, first of all, so misogynistic. It was also hateful and inciteful.
My message for Donald Trump is, first of all, to shut up. Quit using hate speech and study the issues. We are the number-one developed country in the world when it comes to gun deaths.
My message for Donald Trump is, first of all, to shut up. Quit using hate speech, and study the issues. We are the number-one developed country in the world when it comes to gun deaths. If it were happening anywhere else, we would say it was a civil war. Maybe that's what Trump wants, I don't know. I can't get inside this guy's head for the life of me. But what he is saying and doing is dangerous.
Nobody wants to walk in these shoes. You do not want what happened to me to happen to you. But it's happening at a rate of 91 people per day. We are drowning in guns. There are so many that you don't know when it's going to be your turn. I'm doing all I can to make sure it doesn't happen to you. Can Donald Trump say the same?
Sandy Anglin Phillips is the founder of the Jessi's Message foundation and a gun reform advocate. The views expressed here are her own and have been edited for length and clarity.