Aurora Theater Victim's Family Feels Left Behind By Gun Control Groups

Gun control groups like to present themselves as being all about the victims of gun violence. They call pro-gun voices heartless while holding up the victims’ families as props to advance their agendas, but Second Amendment supporters are heartless because we won’t give up our ground for gun control.

However, the family of a victim in the Aurora theater shooting told Buzzfeed News a very different tale.

The last two years have been some of the most significant for the anti–gun violence movement. The 2018 election cycle marked the first in which the National Rifle Association was outspent by gun control groups, which have also had significant state-level successes.

But as the Phillipses reel in the wake of another brutal shooting, they believe the gun control movement and the big organizations that lead it, including Everytown for Gun Safety and the Brady Campaign, need to recenter. In their eyes, if anti–gun violence activists are ever going to be successful, they need to do more to build national support and reassess how they treat survivors.

“Here’s the deal: We really don’t have a true grassroots gun violence prevention movement in this country,” Lonnie said. “It’s not a true movement, in the sense that everyone is not working from the ground up. We have two organizations who have not accomplished something since the Brady Bill.”

After their daughter was killed, the Phillipses went to work for the Brady Campaign doing survivor outreach. “I would call survivors and they would say, ‘I haven’t heard from [Brady] in three years,’” Sandy recalled. “They don’t know what to do with survivors. They’re a business.”

The experience, she said, made her realize that survivors are often used as “backdrops.” The couple was also upset that the campaign didn’t want to talk more about banning assault-style weapons, a cause close to the Phillipses’ hearts, and was dismayed by how much money the organization’s then-head, Daniel Gross, was making. Gross served from 2012 to September 2017, and in 2016, his last full year on the job, he made $409,637.

“Their goal is to build their net worth,” Lonnie said. “They’re building themselves a lifetime job.”

Of course, this isn’t surprising. I’ve usually phrased it something like these groups are using the bodies of the slain as a soapbox to advance their agenda, but the sentiment is the same.

The Phillipses aren’t pro-gun people. I get why they’re not.

However, they are bringing up a very valid point about the hypocrisy of the anti-gun movement. While gun control groups present themselves as the compassionate and caring ones, they’re nothing of the sort.

Now, in fairness, it’s not like the NRA reaches out to these people either, and of course, the NRA doesn’t try to use these people as props.

Groups like Brady, Giffords, and Everytown for Gun Safety are in the business of fundraising. If you can help them with that, they’ll make use of you. If you can’t, then they’ll ignore you. That seems to be the case here.

Oh, sure, they advocate for gun control. But I can’t help but wonder if that’s more of a case of trying to avoid being considered a scam by the government than anything else.

Either way, we can see something very important about our opponents. They’re viler than we thought.