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. ipmutt

    Who cares. Obama has failed to enforce treatment of mental patients and failed to keep guns out of his Chicago supporters hands. If we want to have a gun to support ourselves from these democrat thugs we do not need big government involved

    May 1, 2013 03:32 am at 3:32 am |
  2. john

    restricting gun laws wont stop crazy people, crazy people dont care about the laws already...what makes you think this one will be any different?

    We have laws against drugs in this country....and you see how effective those are dont you? /facepalm

    May 1, 2013 03:38 am at 3:38 am |
  3. James Klimaski

    The rationale for the Second Amendment ended with the Civil War. The issue is not, and never has been that everyone in this country should have unlimited access to any weapon that goes bang. Senator Ayotte well knows that expanding background checks, while not a panacea, would go a long way in keeping guns out of the hands of killers. But what also would help in reducing the incidents of mass murder would be limiting the number of bullet in a weapon's magazine. The Senator's position , which is to do nothing, just doesn't fly in the face of recent history.

    May 1, 2013 03:42 am at 3:42 am |
  4. Marika1970

    I personally think that a person who wants to own a gun needs to apply for a gun licence through their local police station. The police station can do a criminal and psychiatric background check to ensure that the person applying for the gun licence is someone who can handle the responsibility of gun ownership. The applicant would need to pay for the application fee along with any other associated costs. If approved, a gun permit photo identification card could be issued so the person can purchase the gun. A gun safety course should be mandatory and all tests passed prior to a gun permit being issued. We have gun owners in Canada contrary to popular belief. However, there's a strict application process to ensure public safety. If you're a law abiding citizen and don't have any psychiatric disorders that would put the gun owner and others at risk, you have no problem. Both my father and husband have a gun licence, it's earned and its all legal.

    May 1, 2013 03:46 am at 3:46 am |
  5. Fritz Hohenheim

    She was shot unarmed.
    Well then maybe she should have been armed....

    May 1, 2013 03:50 am at 3:50 am |
  6. freedom

    That's nice CNN, now do a story on facts and statistics which show that violent crime is on the decline in the USA, conceal carry states have less violent crime, and how many people stopped violent crime with a gun in the past year, and how many guns sat unused and didnt kill anyone.

    oh, that doesn't fit your agenda?
    You.. you have an agenda? i thought you were news. here to inform?
    no? you're owned by GE? And are a part of the Council on Foreign Relations? And you work for Wall Street?

    May 1, 2013 03:50 am at 3:50 am |
  7. Paul

    And if it had passed and there was another mass shooting what would be said then, and I assure you, that even Joe Biden said it would do zero to stop mass shootings. People are angry cause a bandaide knee jerk approach was rejected by cooler heads? Really?

    May 1, 2013 03:51 am at 3:51 am |
  8. JK

    It's a shame that Congress is controlled by lobbyists (in this case, the NRA) and that your vote means nothing. We should vote against ALL incumbents in 2014. If those that are elected don't show results, vote them out too. These people in office keep getting re-elected and are treated like celebrities instead of the PUBLIC SERVANTS that they are supposed to be. We, the people create the problems by re-electing the same people that vote against our best interests time and time again. VOTE 'EM ALL OUT. Maybe Congress will start to get the message of whom they work for.

    May 1, 2013 04:04 am at 4:04 am |
  9. DanDunn

    "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.

    Deflection is the politician's last resort to avoid answering the question truthfully. And the reason the current system can't be "enforced well" is because the Republican congress added riders to all sorts of bills (which passed) that prevent the ATF an other law enforcement from actually enforcing the laws on the books. So when you look at Senators like her and other members of congress in the NRA's pocket and you see them saying "We need better enforcement of the current system", they are the ones who deliberately hampered better enforcement of the current system in the first place and they know it. Hypocrites one and all.

    I'm not asking for the taking of guns from lawful gun owners. But even lawful gun owners are asking for better background checks. And almost 90% of the US agrees with better background checks. The fact you couldn't vote for this "bipartisan" proposal shows how much of a coward you are Senator. A coward bowing before special interest.

    May 1, 2013 04:07 am at 4:07 am |
  10. Mr. N.

    And yet, Obama himself has said that the measures that were voted down in the senate would have done nothing to prevent Newton. Why didn't Ms. Lafferty mention that?

    People like, Mark Mattioli, a parent of a Sandy Hook victim, who supports the NRA's proposals, are being ignored by the dishonest media such as CNN, while people such as Lafferty who have politicized this issue to push draconian legislation are front page material.

    CNN, stop trying to milk the deaths of those innocent people in order to further your agenda. You're disgusting.

    May 1, 2013 04:23 am at 4:23 am |
  11. North Dallas Don

    Tragically, my two senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz voted as Kelly Ayotte. It's ironic that these three are bent on restricting the most iconic of Constitutional rights - voting, but are equally determined to facilitate the ability of criminals and the mentally ill to receive firearms. These senators can rationalize their vote every which way they want, but they can never justify their vote in the context of what is morally right. I happen to own several rifles and a 9mm glock and as much as I support the Second Amendment, I also support reasonable restrictions on that right. Reasonable is not a word I would use to describe many of our senators and representatives. How tragic, indeed.

    May 1, 2013 04:24 am at 4:24 am |
  12. CHRIS

    How come the news continues to push this issue Americans do not want gun control. Not because we endorse murder. WE NO LONGER TRUST OUR LEADERS AND WITH JUST CAUSE I MIGHT ADD.

    May 1, 2013 04:25 am at 4:25 am |
  13. katrinanation

    why do the victims/survivors and family members feel the need to browbeat the legislators when background checks would not have prevented Sandy Hook, Aurora, Columbine, etc.? All mental health issue related mass violence that would not have been prevented by this legislation. The President using families of victims, the guilt factors, why is everybody avoiding the illegal gun possession by felons causing the most deaths and violence and the severely mentally ill? I don't like the beat down tactics and it doesn't win them the necessary support.

    May 1, 2013 04:26 am at 4:26 am |
  14. J.V.Hodgson

    When I listen to this Ayotte senator I really start to ask why does anyone believe Republicans and her thinks first about what's best for the nation as whole rather than her ( NRA) outdated interptretation of a 2nd amendment right.
    Yes the individual has a right to a weapon ( its been restricted from the outset) and yes a militia... shall we modernise that word ( bearing in mind we have a 250 year successful Constitutional Republic) and replace with the national guard, state controlled under well regulated ideas ( and yes you wanna be a member of the state national guard you can have even Genade launcher, shooting rifles capable asssain type useage and of dual operated 50 mm machine guns etc etc if your position and military skill says you have been well regulated /? trained even!! But they stay in the armory until approved by the state governor!!
    Home weapons have very strict defined self defense limitations and no more than 10 bullets type mags ( non modifiable by law )for self defense or hunting without re-loading.
    Perfect solution no, would it reduce gun deaths in the US over the next 10 -20 years yes, 100 % no. (Nothings perfect.)
    Stop giving us a 1780's or 1850's or federalist papers view of whats realistic and appropriate today. That does not make sense but the above can give all the rights and new words only for militia = national guard with state control.
    For me we would not have damaged the founding fathers intentions one iota but America would be safer for " we the people" from the mentally ill and criminals ability to get guns that can spew out 30 rounds in half a minute and kill kids or criminals/ movie goers in large numbers would be reduced over time, not tomorrow or next week; its called patience and its a virtue that can be acquired.And we need to acquire it.

    May 1, 2013 04:29 am at 4:29 am |
  15. Dan

    Such cowards, those so called "lawmakers"....... They rather vote for the ones who financed their campaign rather than for the ones who actually voted them in office. This is such a shame. There is definitely a need for term limits and more scrutiny into campaign financing.......

    May 1, 2013 04:38 am at 4:38 am |
  16. Martha

    Kudos to Erika Lafferty for confronting one of the spineless Senators who wouldn't stand up to the NRA (No Rational Action) lobby. We will remember Newtown and vote these folks out of office. The Senator's condolences are worse than meaningless. They are disgusting in light of her vote.

    May 1, 2013 04:43 am at 4:43 am |
  17. frasercole

    Ayotte is a waste of a Senate seat. A burden on gun store owners indeed. What a joke.

    May 1, 2013 04:45 am at 4:45 am |
  18. G_Edwards

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

    Sorry for the loss of your mother. It certainly IS important.

    But a background check wouldn't have prevented her from being gunned down in the hall of an elementary school. The killer stole the guns from a legal gunner owner and killed her as well.


    May 1, 2013 04:47 am at 4:47 am |
  19. Not a member

    Hey hey hey, more gun sales for Cheerleader Ayotte & the NRA.

    May 1, 2013 04:48 am at 4:48 am |
  20. Pinewalker

    Good for Sen Ayotte for explaining her position. There is nothing wrong with Ms. Lafferty expressing her concern for what happened in Newtown but Sen Ayotte was in a town hall meeting with her constituents of which Ms. Lafferty is not one. Sen Ayotte represents them and their will to be govened and not Mrs Lafferty's.

    May 1, 2013 04:48 am at 4:48 am |
  21. Bobo

    This guys was intent on killing. If he hadn't killed his mom to get her guns, he would have killed his neighbor. Then what? Most states, like California already have mental health checks and laws, and they will even confiscate weapons from homes that become a "threat". What's next, no one can have guns within 100 square miles of a loon? It's an incredible hassle for a law abiding citizen to purchase a weapon in my state, and I'm ok with that, but frankly the legislation is mostly fluff and has little impact. The 94 assault ban is a case in point. Furthermore mental illness is unpredictable. I have two degrees in psychology and have seen people snap out of nowhere. Are we going to start doing psych evals on everyone? Maybe genetic testing. The truth is, these are some of the consequences of a free society, take it or leave it. All of these laws just choke liberty, punish lawful people, and encourage dissent.

    May 1, 2013 04:57 am at 4:57 am |
  22. SW

    I wonder how much money it took for the NRA to buy the souls of those Senators who voted against this proposed legislation. The 26 Newtown victims will not rest in peace until this country comes to its senses. Hopefully, those Senators won't sleep at night until that happens.

    May 1, 2013 04:59 am at 4:59 am |
  23. Steve

    Poliricians are certainly a breed apart, aren't they?

    May 1, 2013 05:02 am at 5:02 am |
  24. George Maile

    It is quite good for US backround checks on gun, I so think that it is good for the victims to meet with the Senators who voted against and that there will be peace in these world if the US, UK and Russian will fully co-operates on matters of Intelligence.

    May 1, 2013 05:14 am at 5:14 am |
  25. Dave

    Jesus, can CNN be any more of a MOUTHPIECE for the anti-gun lobby? Bottom line, the vote in the Senate was on measures that would not have saved the people in Newtown. In fact, it would not have saved a single life. Not one. CNN simply needs to declare themselves to be anti-2nd Amendment and fall into step with the left. Chance the CABLE to COMMUNIST in their name and be done with it.

    May 1, 2013 05:14 am at 5:14 am |
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