Daughter of Newtown victim confronts senator
April 30th, 2013
07:39 PM ET
5 years ago

Daughter of Newtown victim confronts senator

(CNN) - When Sen. Kelly Ayotte was defending her vote on Tuesday on a recent gun control proposal, she was confronted by the daughter of a victim in the Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school massacre.

Speaking at her first town hall event in New Hampshire since the gun vote earlier this month, the Republican senator sought to explain why she voted against a measure that would expand background checks on firearms sales.

But the crowd of gun control advocates and opponents created a tense environment.

At one point, Erica Lafferty, daughter of slain Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hochsprung, asked Ayotte why she voted against the background check amendment, which was created from a bipartisan compromise but failed to gain the 60 votes needed to move forward in the Senate.

Lafferty told Ayotte that on the day the senator voted, she said the legislation would be a burden on gun store owners, according to CNN affiliate WMUR. "I'm just wondering why the burden of my mother being gunned down in the halls of her elementary school isn't as important."

A lone gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook last December, killing 20 children and six educators.

Lafferty was among the Newtown families who traveled to Washington this month to lobby senators to pass tougher gun laws. Only four Republicans voted against their party and in favor of the bipartisan compromise background check measure. One of them, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, was among those who met with Newtown families before the vote.

On the day of the Senate vote, Lafferty told CNN she was disappointed but felt confident that the bill will rebound. Until then, she added, lawmakers will be held accountable.

“The next time there's a mass shooting and they're asked what they did to prevent it, they're going to have to say nothing,” she said.

Taking a soft tone on Tuesday, Ayotte expressed condolences for the loss of Lafferty's mother.

"I think that ultimately when we look at what happened in Sandy Hook we should have a fuller discussion to make sure that doesn't happen again," the senator said. Ayotte argued the current system needed better enforcement.

"Mental health is the one area that I hope we can agree on going forward to work on because that seems to be the overriding issue on the list and that is why I have been trying to work across the aisle on that issue."

- CNN’s Lisa Desjardins contributed to this report.

Filed under: Gun control • Gun rights • Kelly Ayotte • New Hampshire
soundoff (959 Responses)
  1. Larry L

    She should have told her the real truth. It would sound like "Sweetheart, I'm worried that the N.R.A. and their associated gun lobbies would not give me money or worse – they'd punish me by supoporting somebody else who doesn't give a cr@p about people – especially your mother!"

    April 30, 2013 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  2. Lionel

    Ayotte is toast in 2016. We did not send them to Washington to be controlled by gun lobbist.

    April 30, 2013 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  3. Scott

    The antis just don't get it. The loss of life is always tragic but the country as a whole must be bigger and stronger than this or any tragedy. The Founding fathers got it right. The rights of the People are clear.

    April 30, 2013 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  4. Ann

    Take another gulp of the SLOW POISON you voted for, Ayotte.

    April 30, 2013 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  5. skippydog

    Considering the guns used by Lanza were stolen from his mother (who purchased them legally) I don't see what background checks have to do with Newtown. And there was no assault rifle used either BTW.

    April 30, 2013 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  6. MrDifficult

    Nothing in that legislation would have prevented Newtown. Kneejerk reactions are nobody's friend.

    April 30, 2013 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  7. michael

    shamefull excuse for not only a human but an electred official. only worried about her job. pathetic

    April 30, 2013 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  8. memphismark

    I am a gun owner and lauph at this sad woman who recieved a few phone calls from some gunshop owners , making up 4 to 6 % of her voters and ignoring the remaining 90% that IS NOT STUPID!
    One timer.

    April 30, 2013 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  9. Mark

    Erica Lafferty is suffering from a mental illness right now. Grief.
    I hope she is getting the treatment she needs, as well as the rest of you, if you think a gun kills anyone.

    Do not throw away one of basic rights due to tragedies like Newtown. You only open the door for them to happen again, with only your faith in the government to protect you from it.

    If you dont trust the government to balance a budget, why would you trust them to protect your lives?

    Guns do not kill people, people kill people, and have throughout history without using guns.

    I guess because Ted Bundy killed over 30 over the course of years makes it less tragic than a one day spree?
    He never used a gun. those young girls are still just as dead.

    April 30, 2013 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  10. ya rights

    Priceless and well said hun.

    April 30, 2013 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  11. Platsburg

    All the comments in the world will not make one bit of difference. The only way to gain the attention of the republican (nut cases), is to make sure the voting booth is visited, and the republicans are voted out. Once they get the idea that their jobs are in jeopardy, they'll cease being the party of Dumb and Dumber. This is the only solution.

    April 30, 2013 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  12. ItSoNlYmE

    Wait until somebody opens up in the floor of the Senate and kills a few GOP senators. We'll have gun control faster than Dick Cheney got his heart transplant.

    April 30, 2013 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  13. Zondar

    Erica Lafferty must believe that passing pointless legislation is better than not passing any legislation at all? That's the only thing I can figure – because none of the proposed legislation would have prevented the death of her mother.

    April 30, 2013 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  14. Kenneth Porter

    The bill that was voted down would not have accomplished anyhting to reduce gun violence. I have been a police officer for 25 years and have never arrested a criminal in possession of a weapon that was registared to him. Criminals do not registar guns they steal them. If you want to decrease gun crime make the sentences fit the crime. If they are sentenced to 25 years make them do 25 years. No time off for good behavior, no probation. You cannot legislate criminal intent, you must punish it.

    April 30, 2013 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  15. Dark Poet

    The same loophole that created Sandy Hook existed in the bill.... so her confrontation was pointless...

    April 30, 2013 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  16. Dennis

    Kelly Ayotte believes that being in bed with the NRA is more important than trying to do anything to reduce the gun violence in this country.

    April 30, 2013 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  17. Greg Clapton

    Fact is background checks would not have stopped any of the killings in Connecticut. Another fact, a convict gets out of jail, has his girlfriend buy a gun and then he blows away pizza delivery guy and a Prison Chief. More legistation will solve nothing.

    April 30, 2013 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  18. Marti58

    Why would universal background checks create a "burden" on gun shop owners?? This doesn't make any sense. Sen. Kelly Ayotte was caught off guard by that lady whose mom was slaughtered at Sandy Hook..do we need public officials who lack conscience??I think not.

    April 30, 2013 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  19. sally-ann

    How ia an instant background checks a burden?

    April 30, 2013 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  20. Joe Erie

    Sen. Kelly Ayotte and all other senators who voted against the simple measure to expand background checks should be charged as accomplices the next time someone commits a heinous act with a firearm. PERIOD Maybe the rest of them will actually DO THEIR JOBS instead of cowering in fear of what their corporate overlords will say or do.

    April 30, 2013 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  21. kip

    The real answer is that there is zero connection between background checks and what happened at Sandy Hook. Adam Lanza's mother had no mental health or criminal background issues and had passed a background check each time she bought a gun. Her 20 year old son diagnosed with Ashberger's Syndrome murdered her and took several of her guns to murder 26 human beings. In this case, the focus should be on the judgment of parents with emotionally challenged kids living under the same roof. Mrs Lanza had a gun safe but she should not have given the safe combination to her son. If she had shown better judgment all of these folks including her and her son would likely be alive today. It is really not fair to blame millions of lawful American gun owners for this sad situaton.

    April 30, 2013 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  22. luvUamerica

    Unfortunately Kelly Ayote just did what the NRA wanted her to do. Once she did that, she had to make up stuff to defend her decision. I wonder if carding minors at liquor stores is creating a burden on liquor store owners?

    April 30, 2013 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  23. Tim

    "I'm just wondering why the burden of my mother being gunned down in the halls of her elementary school isn't as important."

    Can any gun lover answer this? question? What's more important, a human life or your right to own a gun?

    April 30, 2013 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  24. James Arzente

    She's just scared, people have to put politicians out there to answer why they vote the way they do, and to demand more of them. OH...they should be busting their ass in DC not on recess. I believe that students in grade school only take recess...

    April 30, 2013 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  25. Sandman

    Background checks would not have stopped the Newtown murders. If you want to effectively use Newtown victims as puppets, use them for legislation that WOULD have stopped the tragedy. Are you really telling me that the victims of Newtown are A-Ok with laws passing that do nothing to stop it?! I've seen tragedy's happen and then be used to enact laws that will keep that from ever happening again...but to see laws being proposed that wouldn't do anything at all? Why is there not more outrage about THAT fact?! Forget gun control arguments for a second...why aren't people mad that nothing is being proposed to stop another Newtown? Likely because nothing would have stopped it, short of bullet proof glass so he couldn't shoot his way in, armed guards in the school and a complete ban of all guns with no grandfathering at all...and all of that still wouldn't take away the anger that the murderer had inside. Sorry, but this was going to happen.

    April 30, 2013 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
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