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. Arthur

    It's stupid idea and should have passed quickly.

    April 30, 2013 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  2. Mark

    Good for Ms Lafferty confronting that cowardly senator who, when asked to fulfill her contract with her constituents, decided instead to sell out to the gun lobby. We look to our elected officials to protect us and do the right thing. Instead, Senator Ayotte cited some pathetic rationale for not voting in favor of background checks. Ultimately, its up to voters to throw the gun lobby shills out of office and elect responsible leaders. Senator Ayotte, congratulations for being a sell out and failing in your basic responsibility as a human being. Now you can go home to your family and tell them what a great leader you are.

    April 30, 2013 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  3. KennyEee

    It isn't going to make any difference!!! They will get a knife, ball bat, run you down in car. Might even use a pressure cooker on you!! If someone is going to kill you it doesn't make any difference. Thre isn't anything wrong with guns it those behind them that shoujldn't have a gun!!!

    April 30, 2013 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  4. BlueDem1

    Republican senators are far more concerned with their NRA paychecks than they are with public safety. There is no logical reason on earth why background checks should not be conducted at gun show sales. None.

    April 30, 2013 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  5. Alan DeGolmon

    A phony response from our Senator in NH. "Ayotte argued the current system needed better enforcement." Really? So voting against background checks is 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."

    Except that you aren't working across any aisles. You voted no on any and all attempts to "work across the aisles" on this issue. And now you're targeting "mental health" (if you'll pardon the expression) as something that you "can agree on going forward to work on." Such oratory.

    And how will you "go forward to work on mental health issues with regard to gun sales, Senator Ayotte? Increased background checks, perhaps?

    You're so phony, Senator Ayotte. "We can agree on going forward to work on." Priceless. Priceless.

    April 30, 2013 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  6. peace and justice

    There is already a background check system, but the loop hole is private sales. Private Sales should be band completely, for that is the issue, this enables you to purchase a gun without no background check and no ID. What happen in Sandy Hook was not because the current background check system failed, but it was because person that own the guns was irresponsible because the guns where not secure. Therefore instead of adding more background checks, let’s remove private sales and prosecute those who try to purchase a gun and fail a background checks. AM I RIGHT OR RIGHT?

    April 30, 2013 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  7. abnguy

    It is interesting that the media always points out the negative of four Republicans voting for the bill and do not highlight positive of the Democrats that voted against it.

    April 30, 2013 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  8. Nicole

    The guys parent's were extremely wealthy. He could have had access to the best institutions and menal healthcare this country has available. Sandy Hook is NOT an example of a lack of mental health care. It IS an example of a person having access to guns who should not have had access to them.

    April 30, 2013 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  9. John Lubeck

    Senator, you and the NRA as good as pulled the triggers yourselves. There are few words to describe the level of contempt in which I hold you and the NRA.

    April 30, 2013 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  10. andi lee

    I have actually been researching the AMA journals, (Reading the AMA's mission statement on gun control should be grounds for treason against our Bill of Rights, IMO) and the various Scientific Journal, and Harvard studies, and one thing is for certain, gun related deaths, have decreased every year, over a twenty year span. Beating people into submission, I suspect, will be their next step! It's unbelievable, the disrespect if we do not agree. God's been taken out of our schools, our businesses, our government. The devil is having a field day. And, you people wonder what is happening to our country, that all hell has broken loose.

    April 30, 2013 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  11. maineiac

    Sorry Ericka but ....You can't fix crazy with gun laws. Where there's a will there's a way. Sorry for your loss, God bless.

    April 30, 2013 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  12. AEP

    Condolences!!! Yeah Right, It is about where your going to cash your check from the NRA & folks

    April 30, 2013 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  13. DarthVaderMentor

    Advocates of gun control are now showing their violent side and how they will treat the political opposition once they are forcibly unarmed. They are the unwitting pawns enabling the future government sponsored great American Political Genocide.


    The facts are clear. Gun Control enables a country to execute POLITICAL GENOCIDE.

    April 30, 2013 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  14. lerianis

    The Senator should have called and had the lady escorted out. The bottom line was that the votes against the gun control legislation were the correct ones, because the Second Amendment says that NO restrictions on the right of the people to keep and bear arms are acceptable.

    They should focus on getting violent criminals off the streets and improving our mental health system in America. Those are the true solutions to the gun problem, along with a little drug legalization since 90% of gun crimes are coming directly or indirectly from having the drug trade illegal.

    April 30, 2013 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  15. greg

    it's shameful that the senator couldnt admit that she's easily bought by the gun lobby, but then again that would require her to have integrity

    April 30, 2013 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  16. michael

    "Lafferty told Ayotte that on the day the senator voted, she said the legislation would be a burden on gun store owners, according to a news agency"

    I wonder how much of a burden it would be if the killer's bullet had hit home for Lafferty.

    How is it that the GOP is so mentally stupid?

    April 30, 2013 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  17. The Thinker1958

    is the police going to stop asking for documents to people applying to be policemen?
    doesn't the Government check the background of anybody applying for a job?
    not wanting the verification is just an excuse because the gun manufacturers want to sell more guns.

    April 30, 2013 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  18. Chick-a-dee

    You lost a loved one & you are hurting. We get that. The shooter in CT had a form of high functioning autism not a mental health disorder. He also had no background history that would have been flagged by the potential legislation. We get that you're hurting. We also get that nothing would have been different if your bill had been law. it is time for you to move to the next stage of grieving & "get" what could & could not have been avoided.

    April 30, 2013 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  19. Mike

    Sen. Kelly Ayotte voted against the bill because the proposed legislation did nothing to stop another Sandy Hook shooting.

    April 30, 2013 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  20. Jez

    Ayotte is a jerk, concerned with gun freaks lining her pocket book for pro-gun votes.

    April 30, 2013 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  21. Jim

    While the Newtown violence was terrible and heart wrenching, it does not give gun control advocates carte blanche to change the 2nd Amendment. The gun-control lobby should quit using the tragedy and loss of life to promote their own agenda.

    April 30, 2013 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  22. Chris

    My mother was killed by a drunk driver. When will alcoholic beverages been banned. Or at least make it as hard to get as a gun.

    April 30, 2013 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  23. Timothy

    If simply creating laws were the answer to all grief, then we have proven over the many centuries we have not yet learned to craft a worthy law. A spicket controlling water comes to mind. Each law is a turn of the spicket from which freedom comes and I suppose it will be that last law that fully closes off all freedom from the spicket that will be the law that works...except for that nasty drip...drip....drip.

    April 30, 2013 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  24. D. Clark

    A bully by any other name still stinks. If the victims of Sandy Hook and the families would stop bullying Congress as if they were the only voters in this nation we would all be better off. Both Representative's and Senators vote with respect to their constituents therein. Not because some bullies corner them in the halls of Congress. They got their vote yet they feel the need to cajole and arm twist at every option. There are millions of American's that do not agree with these bullies and stand for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and yes, even the Senator's have Constitutional Rights that were severely trod upon by these very strong arm tactics.

    April 30, 2013 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  25. Joe citizen abroad

    Another senator bought and paid for by gun manufacturers.

    April 30, 2013 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
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