Mother Jones originally published this piece in July 2017, but the editors decided to promote it this week following the school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

The piece tells the story of Sandy Phillips, whose daughter was killed in the mass shooting by James Holmes at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater in 2012. The story is tragic all the way around, including the lawsuit filed against the dealer who sold the stockpile of ammunition to Holmes.

Working for the Brady Campaign became a flurry of media appearances and meetings with politicians, police, and survivors. The Brady leadership also encouraged Lonnie and me to sue Lucky Gunner, the dealer that sold the stockpile of ammo to Jessi’s killer. We agreed that dealers should have to take some responsibility. Shouldn’t they have to vet a buyer of military-grade weaponry? Or a buyer of bullets en masse? The primary goal of our lawsuit was to make the gun dealer change its business practices—at a minimum, to ask for proof of identity and do a background check.

The case would go on for three months, yet we never met the judge and never saw a courtroom. When the judge dismissed the suit, he said, “It is apparent that this case was filed to pursue the political purposes of the Brady Center.” In my opinion, the law that protects the gun dealers also bars people like us from our constitutional right to be heard.

In the end, Phillips and her husband were ordered to pay more than $200,000 in legal fees to the defendants.