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. Jeb

    92% of Americans are for universal background checks for gun purchases.

    The GOP and the gun lobby are against them.

    Guess who Republicans work for?

    Hint: It's not you.

    April 30, 2013 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  2. jon

    Expanded background checks wouldn't have stopped Newtown. The shooter never purchased a gun. He stole the weapons he used.

    April 30, 2013 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  3. craig Adams MD

    Shame on our congress- they are doing NOTHING again as usual. The NRA owns these cowards.

    April 30, 2013 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  4. Jacob Schurgin

    60 votes out of 100? so much for majority rules...

    April 30, 2013 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  5. waheid

    Wouldn't it be nice if we had more leaders and fewer politicians in Congress?

    April 30, 2013 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  6. Jim Goodman

    "Ayotte argued the current system needed better enforcement."

    There ya go – that's the problem, they pass laws, create bureaucracy and red tape, a system filled with admins, but little to know enforcement. Passing new legislation is simply "theater" that increases the burden on the honest while doing nothing to deter the dishonest – enforce the laws we have now and fix the existing broken system, prosecute the 9000 or so felons who did attempt to purchase a firearm and were denied due to being caught in the existing system!!

    People like "theater" as it's an escape into fantasy land from reality.

    April 30, 2013 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  7. The truth

    This Senator is another joke of a politician. Burden on the gun store owner??? WTF? So let's just let anyone with money buy one if that's the case. Idiot congresswoman Republican fraud. They don't have a clue. Hope she doesn't get re-elected.

    April 30, 2013 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  8. Leslie Ann Warren

    Blessings In Jesus Name Blood & Luv Always!!

    April 30, 2013 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  9. Jim

    The shooter at the elementary school got his gun from his mother. His mother would have passed a background check, most likely, background checks affect everyone but the criminal. They don't do background checks in the black market or the alleys of major cities.

    April 30, 2013 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  10. Honestuclk

    The bottom line is Gun owners vote in the elections and you liberals don't. If you want change go out and vote in numbers that will overwhelm the minority Gun Lobby. Until you do so Senators like Ayotte will vote as the NRA tells them. Please don't talk about the moral imperative until all you liberals go out and vote on election day.

    April 30, 2013 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  11. Big Bird Johnson

    The proposed gun control laws would have done nothing to prevent Newton.

    April 30, 2013 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  12. Tim Lowe

    Ayotte and the other Senators who voted against this bill think they are above accountability. This bill was bipartisan and had been supported by the NRA in the same form a few years back, before the Tea Party moved the Republican Party even further right. Ayotte isn't concerned about citizens from Connecticut...they can't vote for or against her. She, like almost every other politician only care about the concerns of the corporations and the lobbyists who fund their campaigns and who give them lucrative speaking and appearance fees. We do not have representative democracy anymore in this country. Politicians do not care about the voters, only their benefactors.

    April 30, 2013 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  13. Kayser Suzee

    It may sound heartless, but apparently the only thing that will get these senators and other legislators and even private citizens to pay attention is for them to feel the loss personally. When there is a shooting in New Hampshire, maybe Sen. Ayotte will finally get it and stop worrying about a minor inconvenience to the gun-shop owners. Just amazing.

    April 30, 2013 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  14. mccainin4

    I wonder if these senators would allow private citizens to report their gun sales to the national databases? Let the seller report they sold a firearm, model & serial number, to an individual for x dollars.

    April 30, 2013 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  15. Reality Check

    Anyone who voted against the gun control measures is a true embarrassment to society. The vast majority of the country wanted the bill to pass. This is where the laws of this country truly prove to be flawed. In the event that our elected leaders fail to follow our collective desires there should be a means to overrule them.

    April 30, 2013 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  16. SkyKing169

    Let's make sure Sen. Kelly Ayotte is defeated when her term is up for re-election.
    One's right to be alive trumps one's right to possess a gun with loose public oversight or any right for a gun store owner to have 'less burden'. What an incredibly stupid evasive answer to Laffery's question.
    Focus on the ones that voted for the bipartisan measure being re-elected and those that voted against defeated.

    April 30, 2013 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  17. DTM

    Sadly, even improcved background check would not have save this woman's mother. It seem people forget that Lanza was denied in a NICS check to purchase a gun prior to this heinous crime. Instead he killed his mother and stole her firearms. Lanza did not acquire them legally or through commercial channels he killed to get them.

    April 30, 2013 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  18. Aaron Preston Justice

    why is it that some people in the midst of tradgedy seem to be so hasty and reckless? Guns are not the issue but people as a whole are. A person can be killed with a paper clip, knife, newspaper, toothbrush, automobile, baseball bat, baseball, broken glass, bricks, rocks, logs, dvd cases, tv remotes, folding chairs, arrows. Trust me, if someone wants another person dead, they will find a way to make that happen. We should not be attacking the instrument which carried out these heinous acts but should try instead to combat the cause. The boy who commited the terrible events was in need of serious mental help, but here is a funny thing about that, in my state of North Carolina the mental health car budget was cut in half by my former democrat govenor. How are we to help the mentally ill if there is no money? In short, If you don't like guns that's fine but please appreciate the privalige of having the right to own one and always double check REAL statistics and what your senators are actually doing.

    April 30, 2013 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  19. Lenny Pincus

    Watching Ayotte standing at the podium behind the usual Republican blowhards always depresses me. She's being used–obviously with her consent–but watching her tap dance around the reality of her vote with her face being shoved into the pile was oddly refreshing. A true coward being forced to face the truth.

    April 30, 2013 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  20. Robert

    My heart goes out to those who lost loved ones at Sandy Hook, but trampling my Constitutional rights will not bring their loved ones back. It is interesting that the gun control agenda needs innocent blood to advance. That should tell you something.

    April 30, 2013 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  21. Tim

    Translation: "The NRA writes bigger checks than Newtown families can."

    April 30, 2013 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  22. ayo

    MENTAL HEALTH indeed. Yearly psychological evaluation for every gun owner? Insurance for every gun owned? And for goodness sake, what is wrong with background check before buying or transferring a gun! Voters need to place their ballots where their mouth is in future elections.

    April 30, 2013 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  23. Nick Rachi

    We're letting emotions trump reason here.

    April 30, 2013 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  24. SoCalMom

    The only mental health we need to examine at the moment is why senators, who are elected to represent "we, the people," have abdicated that responsibility (given the vast majority of Americans who support background checks), to instead take money from and represent the gun industry. Shameful.

    Guns should be regulated at least to the same extent cars are registered and reregistered when sold or transferred, whether it's to strangers, family or friends. Gun registration (or at the very least, background checks on all purchasers) does not threaten Americans' rights under the 2nd amendment, except for the mentally or criminally ill. Anyone who has a problem with background checks likely IS
    mentally or criminally ill.

    April 30, 2013 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  25. John

    All politicians are beholden to specialist interest. In this case it is the NRA that represents gun manufacturers. The more guns they sell the better – criminally insane are also customers after all.

    Australia had this battle many years ago, but some politicians actually stood up for common sense and guess what, it worked and sane people still can have their toys.

    April 30, 2013 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
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