Shooting victim's family shames GOP congressman with brutal billboards


Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman has an 'A' rating from the NRA. And the family of a young woman killed in the Aurora theater shooting in 2012 is making sure everyone remembers where Coffman's priorities lie.

Swing district voters in Colorado are getting a daily roadside reminder of Republican Rep. Mike Coffman's close ties to the NRA.

It's a strategy straight out of the movie "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri." And it's overseen by Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, whose daughter, Jessica Ghawi, was killed in the mass shooting in an Aurora movie theater in 2012.

The couple has been fighting the NRA and its political allies for years. Following the massacre at a high school in Parkland, Florida, they've accelerated the battle.

"Fighting back has been our salvation," says Lonnie. "We couldn't just sit back and let the NRA win."

The billboard was unveiled late last month, on the 19th anniversary of the 1999 mass murder at nearby Columbine High School.

It's one of 13 billboards in congressional districts across the country targeting specific politicians. The Phillips hope to pay for 30 in total.

"Since Parkland, there's been a national outcry and people are talking about the kinds of things we've been trying to accomplish," says Lonnie. "Since the day our daughter was killed, we've called for a ban on assault weapons."

Coffman's closely contested race this year represents one of the most important in the country in terms of the renewed grassroots push for gun safety in the wake of the Parkland shooting.

Coffman's "A" rating from the NRA and his allegiance to its radical agenda hasn't hurt him in the past.

But now the issue — spurred on by the Phillips' campaign — may help tilt the balance in November. Notably, the largely suburban district east of Denver voted for Hillary Clinton two years ago by nine points.

To date, Coffman has made no effort to soften his gun stance.

Days after the Parkland mass murder, Coffman was showered in boos by local voters. He'd insisted the only way to solve the problem of school shootings was to arm teachers across the country. "Force has to be met with force," he claimed.

Meanwhile, there are early indications that his district is changing.

Last year, Crystal Murillo, a 23-year-old Democrat, won a seat on the traditionally conservative city council in Aurora. She ousted a Republican incumbent and fervent Donald Trump supporter.

And alongside the impossible-to-miss billboards, NRA poster boy Coffman may find the landscape this November to be far different from what he faced just two years ago.