A pro-gun control super PAC has agreed to amend a political ad after the father of a school shooting victim accused it of “politicizing” the death of his daughter.
The ad in question, from a super PAC started by former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords, hits Rep. Mike Coffman – who is locked in a tight re-election fight – for his ties to the National Rifle Association (NRA).
The ad depicts text messages from a student to her mother, telling her the school is on lockdown because someone with a gun is inside.
“I’m so scared. I love u. Tell Dad I love him,” the student, identified as Emily, texts in the ad before she stops responding to her mother. The ad then goes into Coffman’s support from the NRA.
Emily Keyes was fatally shot in 2006 after a 53-year-old man took several female students hostage at Platte Canyon High School in Bailey, Colorado, and sexually assaulted them. She was 16 years old.
Before her death, Keyes texted her family, “I love you guys” and “I love u guys, k?”
“Tomorrow is the 12th anniversary of losing Emily and to see that story politicized is disappointing,” Keyes’ father, John-Michael, told KUSA-TV of the ad.
He said it was “problematic” the messaging in the advertisement was similar to that of the I Love U Guys Foundation – a group started in Keyes’ honor that provides educational and training materials to schools or other entities.
A spokesperson for the super PAC told KUSA the ad “was not modeled after any one individual’s story.”
“Unfortunately there isn’t any name we could have used that wouldn’t be similar to a victim somewhere,” the spokesperson said.
In a statement to the Denver Post, Giffords Executive Director Peter Ambler said, “We are amending the ad, removing a name all together and making clear that it is not connected to any one incident.”
The Giffords PAC said its goal is to “sweep out gun lobby politicians and bring in gun safety champions.”
Of a possibility of a legal challenge to the ad, John-Michael said, “That’s not a battle we can afford, but it’s one that I think may need to be waged.”
“I respect Gabby Giffords, but exploiting the name and horrible death of one of our own to try to win an election is beneath basic human dignity,” Coffman said in a tweet. “I can take the criticism, but this is gross. This ad should be pulled and someone should be fired.”
Giffords has become a leading gun control advocate after she and 18 others were shot during a constituent meeting in 2011. Six people died during the assassination attempt.
The campaign manager for Jason Crow, the Democrat challenging Coffman, told KUSA this “was the first time Coffman has shown outrage over a shooting.”
Fox News has ranked the race to represent Colorado’s 6th congressional district a tossup.