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. Nonsensical

    Where is the outrage about the Democrats who voted against background checks?

    May 1, 2013 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  2. Byron

    A background check would not have prevented Newtown or will it bring the victims back.

    May 1, 2013 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  3. Bruce

    Senator Ayotte and her ilk, which began taking over the Republican Party in the 80's, are the reason I left. I am a resident of New Hampshire, as is my wife and many of my children. Senator we will be voting against you and sending money to your opponent.

    Senator Collins, thank you for demonstrating that some Old Republicans still remain.

    May 1, 2013 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  4. don garrow

    From what I understand the Republican Party did not want to debate the issue of new gun control legislation. Am I wrong on this? If I'm right, why does the Republican Senator call for a debate, when the opportunity became available. Is she another robot who holds the party line versus moral issues and principles? When will the people decide that it's time to look at how much the NRA has given to her coffers to make certain she has the financial ability to be re-elected? If her child was killed under the same circumstances would she continue to be a NRA supporter? My money is on her to continue with the same rhetoric because she enjoys the benefits of being a republican without a conscience. Sadly the Republican Party is a cancerous growth and is widely supported by a "lesion" of supporters.

    May 1, 2013 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  5. CavPilot

    background checks would not have stopped this murderous rampage. It's like re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. might feel good to do, but serves no purpose.

    May 1, 2013 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  6. Gregory

    The republicans were practically giddy and couldn't wait to sell our rights down the river with the Patriot Act. Now, when it comes to trying to prevent domestic terrorism, they're all of a sudden devoted to the 2nd amendment.

    May 1, 2013 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  7. dabchick

    Ayotte is just one of the cowards who doesn't seem to realize she was sent to represent the people – not the NRA.

    May 1, 2013 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  8. bearitstrong

    Ayotte et al caved to NRA and gun manufacturers lobbying – and will have to live with their consciences.

    May 1, 2013 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  9. T

    Kelly Ayotte=coward.

    May 1, 2013 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  10. tnourie

    I believe the good senator forgot to mention the rights of law abiding gun owners everywhere who would be unfairly impacted by the new useless legislation.

    May 1, 2013 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  11. andi lee

    I forgot to mention, Connecticutt already HAD the toughest gun laws in the nation, not to mention the school in lockdown mode as DAILY STANDARD PROCEEDURE, and as tragic as the results are, the laws, procedures in place, did not work for the innocent, nor the criminal, for that matter. Address child abuse, bad parenting, children having children, drugs, alcohol, you might actually get somewhere closer to this utopian society you dream of, but gun control won't get you there.

    May 1, 2013 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  12. CraigRB

    Ayotte is another worthless senator who should be voted out of office without pension and health benefits.

    May 1, 2013 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  13. brett

    It's unbelievable to me that in light of the Newtown & Aurora, CO tragedies that any self-respecting person would vote against enacting stricter gun control laws (to combat the alarming increase in undiagnosed psychiatric syndromes nationwide) or an immediate ban on semi-automatic rifles. I'm sorry but no civilian needs an AR-15 its unjustifiable.

    This supercedes politics in that 20 kindergartners were slain in less than 5 minutes because someone thought it was a brilliant idea to allow anyone to possess a military style assault rifle. Something needs to be done, forget about your re-election campaign, enact some reform in the memories of the innocent children who were lost that day.

    Anyone who turns this into a 'political' issue needs to look in the mirror before whining about how the gov't is trying to take your rights away because its frankly disgusting.

    May 1, 2013 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  14. Bobby G

    I am disabled with bipolar ii, along with cystic fibrosis, making me easily winded and a whopping 120lbs soaken wet, an easy target for a violent criminal. So, why the hell should I lose my right to keep and bear arms? Outlaw firearms and the only ones with them will be the outlaws.

    May 1, 2013 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  15. WOW Permanently moderated by CNN

    So, what aspect of weapons should we do first? Guns or common household items?

    Yes it was heinous, but so was Boston

    May 1, 2013 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  16. Yank

    Does she realize that the legislation being voted on had nothing to do with Newtown? I wonder if someone put her up to it or if she has been convinced that Newtown and this bill were related.

    May 1, 2013 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  17. art

    Way to be vague, Senator

    May 1, 2013 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  18. George

    The problem with this is that Adam Lanza attempted to purchase a hunting rifle to carry out his crime but was turned away without a gun, due to the current background check and waiting period requirements. He then preceded to murder his mother and steal her assault rifle instead. I don't know how people can argue that background checks will prevent horrible crimes like Sandy Hook, when the tragic irony is that he ended up with an assault rifle instead of a hunting rifle BECAUSE of background checks and waiting periods.

    May 1, 2013 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  19. Chagrined500

    Would background checks have prevented Newtown?


    May 1, 2013 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  20. Truth2012

    Forget the back ground checks.... make everyone get a psychiatric exam before being able to purchase a gun and a new one every year.... not everyone stays sane.... I bet we find a lot of sociopaths out there wanting guns... and even more already with them....

    May 1, 2013 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  21. Jeremiah

    There is nothing in The Second Amendment about the right to sell weapons without background check. Nothing.

    May 1, 2013 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  22. I think therefore I am

    I don't think being "a burden on gun store owners" is a viable reason. I think the main cause for the vote and what supporters of the measure refuse to acknowledge and what the Senator doesn't want to voice in public is the uselessness of the bill. It would have little to know impact on violent crime, put the 2d amendment on slippery slope for additional restrictions and serve to harass only the law abiding. I'm truly sorry for EVERYONE affected by the actions of Adam Lanza but the "burden of her mother being gunned down in the halls her elementary school" is the direct result of people making a law (a passive measure), crossing their fingers and hoping everyone abides by it and then acting startled when a tragedy happens. Then when someone suggests armed guards in schools (an active measure) they automatically denounce it because of where and who it came from. I've heard over and over about how if the magazines had less capacity that Adam Lanza would have had to change magazines more often and it would have saved lives. The truth is that he didn't empty every magazine. The police found 3 magazines with 11 rounds, 15 rounds and another round count I can't recall he had used on the floor plus there were 3 magazines he never used. Here's something that might have stopped him, slowed him down and saved lives. A more sturdy security system along with a trained, competent armed guard to meet him as he shot his way into to the school past the flimsy glass door security system. Shops in the mall have better security systems than Sandy Hook did but no one wants to point that out. They just want to blame an inanimate object.

    May 1, 2013 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  23. Mane

    Life has become a commodity not something to be protected. Sad.

    May 1, 2013 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  24. No support

    Ayotte has aligned herself with Graham and it will be her undoing. She doesn't have the backbone to support what she knows is right, so that she can be one of the good ol' boys. I have lost all respect for her.

    May 1, 2013 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  25. Cynic

    Summary of all responses to follow:

    Rawr! Rabble rabble rabble! Guns are bad! Rabble rabble rabble!
    You're stupid, guns don't kill people! Rabble rabble rawr!
    Oh, good comeback, here's a meaningless statistic taken out of context rawr! rabble rabble!
    Oh yeah, here's my equally baseless statistic that equally proves nothing I support! Rabble! rabble! rabble!

    May 1, 2013 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
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