Sandy and Lonnie Phillips lost a daughter in the Aurora, Colorado movie massacre. Hoping to stop future gun violence, they joined a law suit against the company that sold body armor and thousands of rounds to the shooter, with no background check. The law suit demanded not money, but a ruling that the company could make no weapons sales without background checks. T
he judge who heard the case not only ruled for the company, he ordered the people who brought the suit to pay the company’s legal costs. The Phillips’ share was $203,000.
They refused to pay the fine. Sandy Phillips said, “Would you pay the people who helped murder your daughter? These people made it so easy for this crime to occur. They’re never going to get a penny from us.”
Officially bankrupt, the couple sold their belongings and bought an RV in which they now live and travel the country, talking to people about the need for background checks and reaching out to other families who have lost loved ones to gun violence. Their nonprofit “Survivors Empowered” supports shooting survivors, gives them training in how to educate others, manages an oral history film project of their stories, and deploys a rapid-response team to new gun-violence disasters.
Their newest effort is a national campaign that exposes members of Congress who have accepted money from the NRA and have failed to enact legislation to stop the slaughter. "30 Billboards Outside Cowardly Incumbents” puts up billboards in the home districts of legislators who take NRA money and refuse to increase gun controls.
“It is time,” says Sandy Phillips, “that we hold members of Congress accountable for their inaction in the face of tragedy after tragedy. These cowardly leaders are in the pocket of the NRA and refuse to pass sensible gun reform legislation that reflects what the vast majority of Americans, including gun owners, desire. We are not afraid of the NRA. We outnumber the NRA and we’re going to be fighting back with our votes.”
She added that she and Lonnie aren’t afraid of the NRA. “What can they take from us? They’ve already taken our daughter."