(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.
The weapons used at Newtown were not obtained legally. Had this bill been in place before the time of the shooting, nothing would have been different. And for the record, I am in favor of background checks. I am also in favor of law abiding citizens owning firearms without the gov't telling them which ones are acceptable.
Why is a CT resident at a NH town hall?
sen. says focusing on "mental health". i mean mentally ill ppl don't have plans/plots. they just act. and if u look at all mass shooting killers they all were very prepared and still their lawyers/family members/ some politicians are saying that they are mentally ill. to me all those ppl are mentally ill. we need to have some serious strict gun laws.
Republicans rely too heavily on NRA campaign money. That's why they voted it down. Anyone who believes we don't need some measure of gun control is an ignorant coward. And our republican politicians are the front runners in that category. Good for Miss Lafferty! I wish those families the best.
There are plenty of law on the books that address the issue of gun violence, so it is false to claim that legislators have done nothing. The correct statement is that legislators have not done what some people want as opposed to others. What the right thing to do is hard to know when issues of rights and a necessity to compromise dictate outcomes.
If this bill had only been about background checks it would have passed. It's wrong to say these senators voted against background checks. They voted against the other provisions in the bill. It's being sold to the public that this bill only included background checks. This isn't so. Have you read the bill? It's not background checks that was voted against. This bill had absolutely nothing to address mental health issues.
The official investigation of Sandy Hook is not completed so why is there a conclusion that this shooting was caused by one person? Background checks WILL not stop someone from taking a gun and using it to commit a crime.
Know why there are no responses to this story ? It doesn't deserve one ,thats why : ) GROW UP Please .please please
The question that was posed months ago remains to be answered. How would ANY of the legislation put forth have stopped Sandy Hook? The answer is it wouldn't have. It's feel good legislation that would do nothing to stop anything. Fixing the mental health system might have though and that's no where to be found.
Condolences? So phony, the Republicans could care less about Americans!!!!
Adam lanza tried to buy a gun and was denied! Extended background checks would have not stopped him from murdering his own mother and stealing her guns. Someone please explain what added law would have stopped adam because he bypassed all checks and went staight to killing and stealing!
It's interesting that all of the people that argue the Senate was wrong to not pass the Gun Control bill miss the fact that there was nothing in the bill that would have prevented the most recent mass shootings.
I agree that something needs to be done – but at a loss to what are truly effective means to effect change. But passing laws that don't effectively deal with the issue just puts more ineffective laws on the books and increases the costs to society.
This proves once again that Republicans are for business only and not out to protect Americans lives! They are a disgrace to America especially Kelly Ayotte. Maybe a gun man will confront her one day and she will be faced with mortality! I am sickened to hear she had no good excuse but to protect the gun owner shops!!! She is un American as they come!
Why are some of those touched by the Sandy Hook massacre compelled to lobby in favor of background checks, virtually to the exclusion of all else? No such process would have stopped this disaster. I feel great sympathy for these families, but this is grasping at straws. They really do need to explore a different agenda, one with the potential to have a more effective and positive result.
This is not at all obvious propaganda – CNN
Never let a good tragedy go to waste ey?
Americans truly are terrifying when it comes to guns. Why for gods sake do you need to able to possess high powered automatic weapons? What could possibly be wrong with more stringent background checks? Are you afraid your government is going to attack you or something? I just don't get it. If even the slaughter of children doesn't cause a change, then I don't think anything will. And that is a very sad thing indeed.
There is only one thing she can say. That she sold out to the gun manufacturers and sellers. That their profits are much more important the life of her daughter. Simple as that.
Shame on this Senator and others who buckled to the bullies at the NRA.
They will be defeated soon!
The senator should have simply said that if that bill had been in place prior to the shooting that it would not have stopped Adam's MOTHER from acquiring the guns that were eventually used in the death of her mother. A better use of legislative time would be to make tougher mandatory sentences for criminals convicted of using a gun in the commission of a crime and eliminate their ability to accrue time of for good behavior. The ATF statistics clearly demonstrate that these are the individuals who cause the largest portion of guns deaths and almost never use a gun acquired from a gun store or trade show. This would save the most lives and that is where the focus should be.
Ms. Lafferty's question is a good one but it remains unanswered by those who are supposed to represent her. After one of the most shameful and cowardly votes to come out of Washington since the current Congress was seated, the Senate turned their back on the majority of Americans. Special interests and self-interest drove this vote and it really expresses the whole tone of the current Congress. For them it's about the special interests they take money from and the will to do anything (anything but their jobs) to make sure they get re-elected. Sorry, Ms. Lafferty and sorry to the 25 other victims of the Newtown massacre, their families, their community and sorry for the American people.
She asked why it wasn't important? Well the person who did the shooting 1) was declined when he sought to purchase a firearm. So a background check DID its job. 2) the guns were stolen. He murdered his own mother and then took the rifle that she did gave a background check done to purchase. So how hard is that to understand? 3) the measure of gun control was not then, is not now, and will most likely never be supported by "WE THE PEOPLE".
It is interesting that they always point out the Republicans that voted for restricting firearms freedoms but do not point out the Democrats that voted against it. There was bipartisan oppostition to the bill.