The family of a mass shooting victim referenced by Hillary Clinton in a speech this week is thanking her for telling their story, but calling on her to get tougher on gun control.
Sandy and Lonnie Phillips’ daughter, Jessica Ghawi, was killed in the 2012 shooting at an Aurora Colorado movie theater, when James Holmes killed 12 with ammunition he purchased from online retailer “Lucky Gunner.”
“We were surprised that she told are story—we hadn’t heard from the campaign,” Sandy Phillips told TIME in an interview. “But we are honored and frankly ecstatic when any candidate talks about gun violence in our country.”
Clinton referenced the family during an appearance Monday in New Hampshire.
“One of the families of a young woman who was murdered by him sued to say, you know how can you have no accountability at all, no legal responsibility whatsoever to sell weapons and ammunition online,” she said. “And they brought a lawsuit and because of the law that the Congress passed giving immunity, they lost. And then to add insult to injury and to grief, under a state law they were told they had to pay the NRA $200,000 for the legal defense of the guy they sued. This is crazy, folks.”
But Phillips said while they were thankful that Clinton referenced their case, they objected to how she described it. ” Our story was told, but it wasn’t told completely,” she said, expressing hope that they could discuss their situation with the Clinton campaign directly. “We wish the team would have reached out to us first so we could have corrected some of the issues.”
“Our case was not lost,” said Lonnie Phillips. “Hillary said our case was lost. It wasn’t lost. It was dismissed before it was ever heard.” The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act provides gun manufacturers and dealers with immunity for crimes committed with their wares. “If you’re going to use this story, then come out all the way that this needs to be repealed,” Sandy Phillips added.
The Phillips, who have appeared with former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley at campaign events, said they are not endorsing any candidate and will work with anyone from any party to bring tougher gun control laws into effect. But Sandy Phillips said Clinton’s proposals lag the former Maryland governor’s plans.
“Not only do I want her to pledge to repeal [immunity laws], but also to say that she feels that they are unconstitutional,” Sandy Phillips said. “Our right to redress has been taken from us.” Phillips also said she wants Clinton to take a stronger stance on banning the sale of ammunition without a background check.
“She’s always been pretty good on the gun issue–she and her husband both—I just don’t think she’s gone far enough yet,” she added. “And we just want to help her get on the right side.”
Sandy Phillips said the court case and the gun reseller’s legal fees they were obligated to pay have sent them into bankruptcy, with the couple giving their attorney the go-ahead to begin proceedings this week.
A representative of the Clinton campaign said they hope to work with the Phillips soon.
“Mr. and Mrs. Phillips should be commended for responding to such a tragic loss by leading the fight to overturn PLCAA and remove the outrageous liability shield currently protecting irresponsible gun manufacturers and dealers,” said Clinton spokesman Josh Schwerin. “We’ve been in touch with them and are working on scheduling a meeting and continuing to fight alongside them on this critical issue.”
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