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. Lorrie

    "Burden on gun store owners"...yep, that's a really coherent reason Senator Ayotte.

    April 30, 2013 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  2. mustangvoodoo1

    I am sorry but I am getting sick of all the Newtown families. Of course they have suffered an unimaginable tragedy and my heart goes out to them. Yet all this jetting around in Air Force One, confronting senators. WHERE WERE YOU when the thousands of minority children in the inner city are being gunned down on a daily basis. Oh wait a minute when middle class white kids are gunned down, NOW it's time to act, I see!!

    Sorry ma'am but your mother would have died regardless of banning assault weapons, she would have died regardless of banning high capacity magazines, she would have died regardless of expanded background checks.
    I am so sorry for your loss, I truly am but you are NOT going to take away my AR weapons because a deranged kid happened to use an AR

    April 30, 2013 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  3. Well I must say

    how are you going to fix mental health with the terrible lifestyle we have in this worthless country? good luck

    April 30, 2013 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  4. Aurora Chuck

    CNN, please stop politicizing this story. Why don't you report on more crucial stories such as our Homeland Security and intelligence community missing vital intelligence on the Fort Hood shootings, Benghazi Consulate quagmire, and the Boston bombing. Our intelligence officials were forewarned before all three events happened yet refused to do anything about them. Love him or hate him the Bush administration would have prevented these events.

    April 30, 2013 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  5. RJ

    These people are sick. Protecting the gun industry over its own citizens. This is not what America is about and I hope these people are dully voted out.

    April 30, 2013 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  6. Rogue351

    The NRA can stand in front of these people and tell them guns are not the problem. And say it with a straight face while they make billions from the sales of guns. Since most if, not all Republican senators are controlled by NRA money they are going to say the exact same thing. But the Republican will turn right around and tell everyone how we need stronger morals in this country. They will say how "Responsible gun owners" are not the problem and these new laws would have hurt them. They will not tell them that the largest number of illegal guns end up on the streets because of these very same "Responsible gun owners" either selling to people they should not. Not securing their weapon and allowing it to be stolen. Criminals will do what criminals do. "Responsible gun owners" will just help them along. Apparently there is a big difference in the eyes of the GOP / Tea Party and the NRA.

    April 30, 2013 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  7. K Remmert

    I would like to extend my sympathies to Ms Lafferty but nothing that was in the bill voted on by the Senate would have prevented the tragedy of Newtown.

    April 30, 2013 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  8. JSP

    I don't understand how any American wouldn't want stricter gun laws. The republicans ignore common sense. Protect your people in everyway possible from violence and death. This senator and others like her really don't care about people only money and there perfect little circle of life.

    April 30, 2013 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  9. Greater Good

    Sometimes we have to experience a little inconvenience to ensure public safety: stop signs, red lights, speed limits, taking off our shoes to board an airplane. You'd think background checks to keep the guns out of hands of criminals, crazies, and terrorists would fall along those lines. But no...not if it means ruffling the feathers of the NRA.

    Good thing we know who you and your cohorts are really looking out for, Sen. Ayotte!

    April 30, 2013 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  10. mcc

    the girl should have asked the senators that voted for this - "how would this silly law have stopped my mom from being gunned down"... because it would not have. losing patience and sympathy at this point for the newtown tools

    April 30, 2013 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  11. spink007

    Sen. Ayotte should not feel guilty about voting against the extended background checks. Those checks would not have done anything to stop the horrible massacre at Newtown. It is terrible for the relatives of the victims, but it is emotional blackmail to blame the tragedy on those Senators who voted against these background checks.

    April 30, 2013 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  12. GrandOldPatsy

    Sorry chicky, but the legislation would not have done diddly "the next time around".

    April 30, 2013 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  13. Tom MacMorran

    I believe in the second amendment. It was intended to allow the American people to proect themselves against tyranny. That was two centuries ago and with the techological advantage the government has, it is no longer a viable concept. The senator's response is a typical self-serving reply from a career politcian to appease those for whom she is fronting and from whom she has been bought.

    Ms. Lafferty,I am truely sorry for your loss and for the loss of all those at Sandy Hook, (not to mention those in Arizona, Colorado and Virginia who have been lost before). It is being compounded by the best government money can buy. You are dealing with people whose impulse for expediency and self aggrandizement trumps any reason and moral conviction normal people would hold. It is clear that the nation's leadership does not have a moral compass.

    God help us all. I am so sorry for your loss and for our loss as a country.

    With all my respects,

    Tom MacMorran
    A single citizen of conscience.

    April 30, 2013 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  14. Paul

    Ms. Lafferty, I'm just wondering why you think "shall not be infringed" isn't as important as feel good emotional knee jerk do nothing legislation.

    April 30, 2013 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  15. jeff

    trying to stretch that 15 mins of shame?

    April 30, 2013 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  16. CommonSense

    Senator Ayotte is the poster child of a cynical, out-of-touch, and corrupt Washington playground.

    Nothing moves these people....not even the innocent blood of babies and mothers.

    April 30, 2013 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  17. Jesus

    This is crazy. Bring a child in to say something to make headlines and cause a stir. This senator is right, harsher gun control measures won't do much, there needs to be other avenues pursued, but here we are having parents try to make the senator look like a terrible person. Conferences like this should be for ADULTS only!

    May 1, 2013 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  18. Mark

    The answer: background checks won't keep weapons out of the hands of evil people.

    May 1, 2013 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  19. camama

    Every no vote on that bill should be held accountable. Burdens on gun store owners? Really?

    May 1, 2013 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  20. Corwin7

    And the senator replied "Well honey...until you can match the NRA's campaign contribution we can't really discuss anything concrete can we?"

    May 1, 2013 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  21. Bob

    It all goes back to jobs, People are upset, bored and have nothing to look forward too, remember people kill people, not guns. shame on you for lying constantly to the citizens of this country, unemployment is close to spains rate 29% grow up you liars in congress, you can't fool us anymore.

    May 1, 2013 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  22. Steve

    Background checks don't infringe upon your Constitutional rights. If the background check raises a red flag and you don't get to purchase a gun, then that's due process. The NRA won this by keeping politicians in their pockets, not in the court of public opinion. I hope they feel just how hollow their victory is, just like their rhetoric.

    May 1, 2013 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  23. Jennifer

    Since I am not a politician I can speak the truth which Sen. Kelly Ayotte refused to do, "politics=1, victims/citizens=0".

    May 1, 2013 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  24. Proud Gun Owner

    I support a comprehensive background check, I have nothing to fear, I'm in good mental health and besides, I don't need machine guns nor high capacity magazines... I honestly don't understand why the senate didn't pass that bill... I think we should fire them.

    May 1, 2013 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  25. kristy

    Where were all of these anti gun activists before newtown?

    May 1, 2013 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
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