STATEMENT BY BYRL PHILLIPS-TAYLOR
HOUSE JUDICIARY CRIME SUB-COMMITTEE
THURSDAY, MAY 27,1999
Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the Committee, I want to thank you for inviting me
here again. I would like to say at the outset, however, that I am here both as a mother who has
lost her own child to gun violence and as a stand-in .for the tens of thousands of other American mothers who are heartsick at the loss of their own children. What I most want to accomplish,
and what I am here today to ask for, is a society in which mothers and fathers can send their children off to school in the morning with the absolute knowledge that they will return unharmed in the afternoon.
I was one of the other mothers, whose child did not come home. Ten years ago, my son Scott
had just graduated from high school. He was about to start Virginia Tech College, and to put it simply, he was the light of my life and my best friend. Scott was the son that every mother
wants -popular, good at school, always good-humored, never in trouble.
But there was a boy at his school that didn't like him. During the summer this boy found where Scott was working and got a job there. He lured Scott into the woods and shot him six times
with an AK-47 assault rifle that was taken from an unlocked gun storage shed. The first shot was in the back and the last was an execution-style shot to the head. Scott Phillips didn't have a chance.
In 1989, when this happened, it was legal for an 18-year-old to walk into a gun store and purchase a brand new AK-47. Because of what this Congress accomplished five years ago, no one is now allowed to purchase a brand new AK-47, but thousands of existing assault weapons of the kind that killed my son were "grandfathered," along with large ammunition clips that can hold fifteen or twenty or even thirty rounds. Additionally, because these grandfathered assault weapons are classified as long guns, there are still many states in which it is legal for a total stranger to sell an assault rifle to a 12-year-old child, and it is legal for that 12-year-old to buy that assault rifle at a gun show.
Loopholes lead to bulletholes. Last week the United States Senate behaved bravely and honorably when it finally acted to close the loopholes that make the bulletholes in our children. The Senate voted to close the gun-show loophole so that every gun sold to every purchaser involves a background check. The Senate voted to prohibit the possession of assault weapons by minors. The Senate voted to prohibit the further import of large ammunition clips of the sort that are illegal for hunting animals but which all too often have been used to hunt human beings. And the Senate voted to provide child safety locks with every new handgun.
These measures were called "modest" by some in the press, but to me they are not modest at all. Every step the United States House of Representatives now takes to keep guns out of the hands of children and criminals will save lives -lives that are as important to their mothers and fathers as Scott's was to me. And every step that the House takes to expand upon and improve the Senate bill will save more lives --lives that are much more valuable to this nation than the political games and behind-the-scenes lobbying that always seems to accompany gun-control legislation.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am more optimistic about this nation 's stake in its children 's safety than I was two weeks ago. The steps taken by the Senate to protect children from guns are long
overdue but even more so after a year of Littletons and Jonesboros and now Conyers, Georgia.
The Senate has demonstrated that it cares about keeping guns away from children, and that may
be the turning point that every mother like me has been waiting for. With all my heart, I ask you make this the last time in which I must plead for the simple, common-sense laws that will protect our children. Remember: 50,000 children have lost their lives to guns in the ten years since
Scott 's death. Enough is enough.