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. Me

    If all the gun control nut jobs had any sense, they would be fighting to get guns into the hands of teachers so they could protect their children.

    May 1, 2013 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  2. annoyed

    I like how it goes on to say only 4 Republican senators voted for it but does not mention the democrats who voted against it. CNN is so biased it's almost grounds for libel.

    May 1, 2013 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  3. Know Your Subject

    Daughter of Newtown victim confronts Senator; wants to know why the Senator voted against a gun control bill that would have done nothing to prevent her mother's death.

    May 1, 2013 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  4. Joe

    The answer is obviously not more "gun free" zones. Those do not apply to criminals. The answer is not piling on additional restrictions for law-abiding citizens, when the current laws aren't enforced. The solution is acknowledging that nearly 3,000,000 guns already exist in private hands and working more towards addressing the mental health issue and enforcing the laws that exist. Connecticut is a blue state. It's citizens wish for more stringent gun control, and that comes at a price. The answer is not parading yourselves around with the current administration and aiming to disarm those who obey the law in hopes that you might preserve "even one" innocent life.

    May 1, 2013 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  5. canastakid

    Pure and simple, the NRA is powerful. It's a shame, but it's true.....our representitives do not represent the people, they represent the money that they need to get elected. The NRA has that money.

    May 1, 2013 01:44 am at 1:44 am |
  6. Zach

    Mental Health definitely IS an area we need to look at. But it costs money. And do we really believe that this House will approve a bill to expand government aid and servicesfor the mentally ill?

    May 1, 2013 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  7. Salvador Co Ling

    Sen. Kelly Ayotte has a moral responsibility to what happen in Newtown, Conn. for being a member of The United State of America. It's a shame for doing nothing and trying to excuse herself from her moral responsibility.

    May 1, 2013 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  8. Js

    I feel bad for the daughter- very sad. But she's wrong on her issue. She doesn't get it.

    May 1, 2013 01:46 am at 1:46 am |
  9. Steve

    Hey RICO, where you at? If hydroponic stores who mostly sell equipment and products to let legitimate vegetable growers can be shut down and prosecuted because a few costumers grow bud, why can't we do the same to straw sellers. The guns are manufactured here in the US, and used for crimes here in the US. So the break down is here in the US. At some point in the chain of movement, illegal profiteering is occurring either directly from the manufacturer or the dealer. Criminals are not making the guns in their backyards. Fast and Furious failed because it tracked the guns and money flowing the wrong way. Simple question; who is making the most money from gun sells (legal and illegal) and who is try with all their might to not change a damn thing? (hint: Criminal in suits)

    May 1, 2013 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  10. Salvador Co Ling

    Sen. Kelly Ayotte has a moral responsibility to what happen in Newtown, Conn. for being a member of The Senate of The United State America. It's a shame for doing nothing and trying to excuse herself from her moral responsibility.

    May 1, 2013 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  11. Angela

    She hasn't begun to work across the aisle. Straight GOP subservient to the Gun Nut Senator. I am a gun owner, I shoot competatively and every gun I have bought I have had a background check and it has been no problem. If the Gun store owners find it too much of a burden to not sell to felons and the insane I suggest they get into another line of business, Especially because Gun store owners are already supposed to do a background check. This closes other loopholes that let felons get their hands on guns. Either she has no idea what she is voting on or she is a liar.

    May 1, 2013 01:55 am at 1:55 am |
  12. Jim

    So a Connecticut resident attacks a senator from another state who is beholden to a whole other constituency? This furthers the discussion and argument how? DRAMA

    May 1, 2013 01:56 am at 1:56 am |
  13. David

    "I'm just wondering why the burden of my mother being gunned down in the halls of her elementary school isn't as important."

    And i'm just wondering when these idiots will realize that none of the bills offered would have save anyone. (except putting armed guards in schools and a national conceal carry/open carry) Criminals are criminals, they do not follow the laws so laws can't stop them so why burden the law abiding?

    Even if these laws have passed they wouldn't have prevented that mass shooting. Adam Lanza Murdered his mother an stole guns that she would have legally owned even with these laws.

    So democrats get over yourselves. Laws do not stop criminals so get out of your dream world. People with guns stop criminals.

    May 1, 2013 02:04 am at 2:04 am |
  14. Flossy

    How do you determine if one is mentally ill WITHOUT background checks???

    This lady has no business being in govnment.

    May 1, 2013 02:04 am at 2:04 am |
  15. Namemichael

    Okay how is the background going to find mentally challenged family members of the gun buyer. The mother had the guns legally. Not the son who used them. Tell me are illegal acts done by registered guns no there not there done by guns gotten by illegal means. So logically we need to go after the criminals that sell guns illegally not the law abidding people who are trying to by guns legally and register them.

    May 1, 2013 02:08 am at 2:08 am |
  16. J

    How about he senator responds by saying, "I voted no because even if this bill where in place it would have done nothing to save your mother. The bill is just an attempt by gun control advocates- who have been pushing for stricter laws for ages-to take advantage of your mothers death to push their agenda and I won't stand for it."

    May 1, 2013 02:09 am at 2:09 am |
  17. igor1963

    Not a single item from failed proposals could even possibly prevent Newton tragedy. We need better laws that will address mental health issues.

    May 1, 2013 02:09 am at 2:09 am |
  18. Chuck Young

    And how much $$ did the NRA give that worthless Sen. Kelly Ayotte

    May 1, 2013 02:09 am at 2:09 am |
  19. pws1121

    The majority of the US citizens who live in a failing economy, see their jobs exported overseas, involved in a 12 year war that has no aim or end, are victims of bombings and now see their freedoms being outlawed are starting to get fed up. As much as I watched in shock and horror the Newton massacre, not believing this could happen in the US (again), I was thinking why are special laws and privileges being passed to people that become victims. A gun is not a toy, it is a tool. A rite of manhood was to be given a firearm to teach responsibility. Not to kill. As much as I feel for the Newton victims, we should not allow their anger and grief to dictate the way the rest of the US citizens how to live.

    May 1, 2013 02:14 am at 2:14 am |
  20. Sam I. Am

    Unfortunately, even if this bill HAD been the law before December 2012, it would not have stopped the shooter from stealing his mother's guns.

    May 1, 2013 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  21. angryoldguy

    The congress is owned by the NRA. Bought and paid for, lock, stock and 2 smoking barrels!

    May 1, 2013 02:19 am at 2:19 am |
  22. sb9054

    Senator Ayotte should be ashamed of herself. "a burden on gun store owners" ? This senator will be voted out!

    May 1, 2013 02:20 am at 2:20 am |
  23. Nick Digital

    How exactly would a background check have prevented the Sandy Hook massacre? Adam Lanza stole the guns from his mother and then killed her, did he not? Expanding background checks is basically just a feel good measure so that politicians can seem like they actually care about something besides themselves.

    May 1, 2013 02:24 am at 2:24 am |
  24. David D.

    How long is CNN going to run this story miking every drop of blood they can for advertising dollars?

    Not one thing in the proposed legislation would would have in any way affected the tragedy (yes, even if the measures were put in place prior to). I can understand why people wish to "do something" after a massacre like this – but they don't concentrate on the elements that contributed to the event taking place. Like the news media. The news media runs these stories like crazy as they cause people to look at the site and see ads. Hundreds of inner city kids get gunned down every day in gang violence, but that doesn't cause people to be concerned. It's when some sweet white innocent suburban children get killed by a nutcase by being shot with a scary looking military style rifle that the press goes into apoplexy. And the more they run the stories and talk about the shooter, the more the next one is motivated to do the same thing. We are talking about narcissistic suicidal people with a bone to pick with the world. The press in it's pursuit of advertising dollars rushes to give them a platform to be heard. That's MOTIVE. In law enforcement classes in college, they talked about motive. "Without motive there will be no crime." So CNN, you are far more responsible for the crime than the NRA is. YOU PROVIDE MOTIVE. All for ad money. So sick.

    May 1, 2013 02:26 am at 2:26 am |
  25. sonja

    Anyone who supports these illegal and useless gun control bills, are anti-American. Any elected official who attempts to question, violate or downgrade basic American rights have violated their oath and is guilty of treason. Those who voted for them should be held accountable. Obama thinks he is a king and can bypass congress through executive orders and gestapo like tactics. His allegiance is to power, money and the DNC.

    May 1, 2013 02:30 am at 2:30 am |
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