Daughter of Newtown victim confronts senator
April 30th, 2013
07:39 PM ET
12 months 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. Kevin

    ....And what part of background checks would have stopped Sandy Hook? While I totally sympathies with the principals daughter; I cant get over the fact that their push would have done NOTHING to prevent the madman. And that's just the point..

    Lets address the inability of families with mentally disturbed members to have theirloved ones committed for their own protection. Presently the States hands are tied by current law...

    I guess common sense is just something we've delegated to the memory of our mobile device...

    April 30, 2013 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  2. Cy Bode

    Winter is coming , so is the next Senate Election in NH , Kelly has a big problem .

    April 30, 2013 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  3. John P.

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

    There is no relationship. background checks would not have helped here. Instead, be upset with the senator for noot proposing productive, focused legislation.

    April 30, 2013 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  4. John P.

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

    There is no relationship. Background checks would not have helped here. Instead, be upset with the senator for not proposing productive, focused legislation.

    April 30, 2013 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  5. Donald

    Ok I feel bad for her loss of her mother but she shouldnt blame a U.S. Senator. A gun law for background check isnt gonna stop shootings. Someone good, clean, and responsible is gonna own a gun and somebody he/she knows will find out about the gun and when the gunowner is not at home or in the bathroom or somewhere that's impossible for them to have reach of the gun, the person will steal the gun and kill a bunch of people. So a Senator is not to blame for voting against a bill.

    April 30, 2013 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  6. Dave

    The Senator said, "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."

    Isn't that what background checks can help identify? Isn't voting against background checks making it that much easier for mentally unstable people to obtain guns? When will common sense prevail?

    April 30, 2013 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  7. Hmm

    The next time there is a mass shooting, and there is no trained, licensed, armed person present to prevent or stop it, gun control advocates will be held responsible. If Ms. Lafferty had been there when her mother was about to be shot, wouldn't Ms. Lafferty have done anything, even if it came to shooting the attacker, in order to save her mother?

    April 30, 2013 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  8. pooh2

    "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." And indeed, her mental health needs serious improvement if she does not see that gun control is the issue.

    April 30, 2013 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  9. allenwoll

    .
    One's personal Freedom and Liberty do NOT include the right to unilaterally or unsymmetrically impact the personal Freedom and Liberty of another.
    .
    Now, given that, just how much Freedom and Liberty can exist or be exercised by the individual ? ?
    .
    Most of the discussions on this topic are led by those indulging in purveying fantasies of one style or another for their OWN purposes - Purposes seldom of benefit or importance to the general public.
    .

    April 30, 2013 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  10. LP

    Senator Ayotte, it is the greatest embarrassment of recent American political history–and the strongest indication of a status-quo government–that progress was not made in regard to gun control. Your double-talk in response to the question, with its hollow reference to "reaching across the aisle," cannot distinguish you as a person of integrity, intellect or compassion. Look at the families of those who have lost their loved ones, so many of whom were little children, and tell all America that you care about the protection of people. Then, look at it this way: If the law of the land in the first half of our history endorsed slavery, would it have been right for Lincoln to have protected that law instead of the people and their right to justice and equality? Certainly it wouldn't have been right. The government of this land should be a government of and for the people, but instead it has become the government of business; a government that seeks to bolster its production and employment figures while ignoring the welfare of parents and children. You, Senator Ayotte, are an embarrassment to the people who would once have admired those in political service, and I feel sorry for you.

    April 30, 2013 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  11. Greg

    None of the laws in this bill would have prevented that idiot from killing those people at Sandy Hook. Even if they would have passed this bill, it wouldn't have stopped that horrific tragedy.

    April 30, 2013 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  12. sg

    these people are being exploited. this is wrong

    April 30, 2013 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  13. Sean

    Well, for one, it wouldn't have saved her mother. Sad reality, but reality nonetheless. We all hear from a young age that freedom isn't free, but no one expects they might be force to pay the price, whether serving your country or falling victim to a monster. We can't stop all of these people unless we control every aspect of people's lives, but when that happens, all liberty is lost.

    April 30, 2013 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  14. Just Me

    Forces is the ultimate in diplomacy; to prove my
    point look through history for the civilizations that do not exist anymore

    “But I will accept any rules that you feel necessary to your freedom. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.”

    “The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress” by Robert Heinlein

    But if laws alone were effective in regulating criminal behavior, prisons would be empty.

    April 30, 2013 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  15. sheila hartis

    Pardon me very much, Senator, but who gives a crap about the sellers of guns when people are getting murdered with them? This is the lamest statement I've heard yet from anyone. Keeping computerized records of gun ownership should be absolutely mandatory in every state of the country and kept in a national registry. This would make it much easier to track these weapons of potential mass destruction than what we have now, which is basically darn little. The good Senator deserves to be fired for her dopey answer.

    April 30, 2013 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  16. Surthurfurd

    "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."
    Does this mean that the "Republicans" who have been gutting services for mental health issues will change their ways?

    April 30, 2013 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  17. Lee

    Your own personal safety is not a right. The Bill of rights gives you the means to be safe.

    April 30, 2013 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  18. curbcheck

    Guilt does no good.

    These people get big money in their pockets to vote the way they do.

    This is why lobbying needs to end.

    April 30, 2013 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  19. Mike

    Its a fact the republicans love death. They will lie to go to war, they will tell you more guns is the answer. They will tell you like they have been doing for a long time to vote against your best interest so they can get richer. wake up suckers.

    April 30, 2013 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  20. jeff

    Remember her on election day. If that was my mother, I would be outside of my my Politicians door daily. You people know you would also.

    April 30, 2013 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    Cowards all

    April 30, 2013 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  22. Keel Hauler

    Ms. Lafferty, you would have them pass poorly-considered, knee-jerk legislation to add tot he already ineffective legislation that did not help. that's worse than doing "nothing."

    April 30, 2013 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  23. Tubby the Tuba Texas

    I bethe Senator was trying to find a place to hide when accosted by the daughter. Serves the old biddie right for voting against background checks on gun sales. What a lame excuse....her chances of re-election may not be very good.

    April 30, 2013 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  24. Dark Space

    "A burden on gun store owners"? That doesn't make sense – gun store owners are already required to perform background checks on ALL firearm transactions. It sounds like both sides don't know what they're talking about, or it is just being horribly reported.

    April 30, 2013 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  25. IndyDemPub

    The ironic thing is that increased background checks would've done nothing to prevent Newtown. Adam Lanza was denied a firearm due to a failed background check when he tried to purchase one legally. Undeterred, he simply murdered his mother and stole her guns. Last I checked, background checks aren't required to murder and steal. I feel, deeply, for what those families are going through. I can't begin to even imagine the horror of losing a loved one to a lunatic like that. But the legislation produced in the Senate failed because it would've done absolutely nothing to prevent another Newtown.

    April 30, 2013 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
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