(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.
Sorry honey, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Ayotte made the right decision.
Way to politicize a massacre, btw more gun controls would have had absolutely no effect on the the Newtown shootings. How convenient she overlooked that.
Uhhhh - uneducated Senator.
Better response: "Because the proposed gun control bill would have done nothing to prevent a Sandy Hook shooting because the shooter stole guns. Stolen Guns don't force a criminal to perform a background check."
And how would the background check have stopped this shooting? He murdered his own mother, stole her guns, shot his way in to a completely undefended school and slaughtered defenseless children and teachers. This is the modus operandi of most of these nutcases, laws are irrelevant to them and they will find a way to commit their atrocities.
We need to quit pretending that these feel good half measures will protect our children or anyone else. There always has been and always will be demented, evil people in this world. Depend on others to protect you if you wish but me, I'll be responsible for myself and my family knowing that I still can't guarantee their safety 24/7... no one can. Ask the people of Boston, the citizens of crime ridden and strict Chicago. Ask a law enforcement officer to guarantee your safety and that they will respond in seconds or minutes. All of this is fantasy and some of you are betting your lives on it. Not me.
why did i vote against it.... because i was paid to vote against it....
What does background checks have to do with sandy hook? The kid took his moms guns so the background check would not have mattered.
"I'm just wondering why the burden of my mother being gunned down in the halls of her elementary school isn't as important." Yes, Erica, I am wondering the same thing. If Australia could do a complete about face on gun control 15 years ago, and have a more civil society for their efforts, what is so sacred about American gun shops? Have you ever considered that the kinds of massacres we are enduring is symptomatic of a society that is rotting from the inside out, and putting a clever, holier-than-thou Second amendment spin on their faces. The right to bear arms has nothing to do with assault weapon, otherwise, why stop there. Nuclear arms are arms as well. Where do you stop? What a crude bunch of smellers these 2nd Amendment patriots are.
Unfortunately Mrs. Ayote was dumbfounded as the NRA had not prepared her talking points for her.
That proposed gun legislation would have done nothing to prevent these recent murders. Congress needs to do much more then restrict law abiding, tax paying Americans for a bandade saying the government did something and no one even mentioned who is going to pay for that bill.
Good for Erica Lafferty for having the courage to confront Senator Ayotte on her vote. These spineless Senators should be called out at every opportunity. I was shocked to see Ayotte without her blowhard sidekicks, McCain and Graham. I hope the good people of New Hampshire show her the door in the next election.
What Kelly Ayotte failed to say to the voters of New Hampshire was that she, like most republicans have sold their soul to the NRA and the arms manufacturers for massive contributions to their campaign funds.
Sandy hook was terribly horrific.. but I would never want emotion to influence rights and freedoms. That's why there's a house and Senate..to filter the emotion.
This is pathetic, CNN. Stop... Please just stop. Stop calling yourself a news source, and pretending you are anything more than an outlet for propaganda. I used to trust you as my primary news outlet, and feel like a fool for failing to realize, for far too long, that you are no better than MSNBC, or *insert incredibly biased news source here*. Your entire organization, and what it has become, makes me sick.
um, hello. the guns used in this crime were legally purchased. background checks would not have prevented the mother from buying these guns. I am so sick and tired of people forgetting this fact.
The Republicans are right. Wouldn't we all be happier if we just stopped "burdening" business owners with restrictive laws that protect our air, water, food and lives?
Gun laws that protect the lives are people are just anti-business. (And the people who believes are just idiots!)
The GOP is corrupt as corrupts can be. Over 90% of the US supported the background check expansion. But the GOP doesn't care. They care more about the NRA than America. Despicable!
Stupid gutless American politician
So I am still waiting for someone to explain to me how that legislation would have prevented Sandy Hook from happening.
I know it's a sad situation. But the fact is, the government could've done all the background checks they wanted too. The shooters mother woulda passed any background check in any state. People need to realize that.
Yes let us not burden gun store owners with silly laws that would help save lives .... what a strange world we live in
“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. And if they passed the law and there will be another mass shooting... criminals don't care about laws, we've outlawed killing 5,000 years ago.
She didn't vote for the gun control measure because its not going to do anything for controlling the psychos that performs these mass killings.
Stop telling us this wouldn't have stop any of the recent mass killings. Background checks just make good common sense. 10 minutes of time to save somebody life. Enforcing the existing laws is just way to expensive, it is much easier to do something at the beginning not in the middle or end. Are gun nuts trying to say all the guns the bad guys have were stolen?
"work across the aisle" political speak for..."I will do nothing and blame the other party..."
A brain washed liberal.
What Ms. Lafferty doesn't understand is that even with the best and most thorough background check, she still would have lost her mother. Adam Lanza's mom bought the guns and her sick son murdered her and stole them. No background check would have had an impact on the outcome of Adam's crimes. I am heartfully sorry for her loss. However, we cannot pass laws because we have to do "something" but rather pass laws that fix the problems we're really facing.