Daughter of Newtown victim confronts senator
April 30th, 2013
07:39 PM ET
1 year 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. Still here after all these years

    Well, it's good to know that money still talks, and everything else walks. I'm certain that the senator's re-election campaign's coffers are chock full of the NRA's money. Remember folks, dead people do not contribute to society, or to re-election campaigns. My heart goes out to the people who lost loved ones. Mental health reform is needed, starting at the top of the food chain.

    May 1, 2013 05:20 am at 5:20 am |
  2. SpencerRifle

    She's entitled to her opinion & her vote....& so is every other voter in New Hampshire. By most polls only 5% of Americans rate gun control as an important issue so move on to the important things facing us like the national debt, unemployment, North Korea & Iran & illegal immigration.

    May 1, 2013 05:37 am at 5:37 am |
  3. Charlie

    Who cares!

    Enough with the gun control hysteria

    May 1, 2013 05:38 am at 5:38 am |
  4. vp

    Ms. Ayotte took money from the NRA and she can't defend her vote.

    Even to a victim of a horriffic crime, she punted.

    May 1, 2013 05:42 am at 5:42 am |
  5. Boring Media Hype

    Most NH gun owners don't want a gun registry, which this bill actually was so she did her job despite the guilt mongers harrassing her

    May 1, 2013 05:47 am at 5:47 am |
  6. mccainin4

    How about allowing private citizens to report gun sales directly into the national database? There's no constitutional crisis because the reporting would be voluntary. Both sellers AND buyers could volunteer this information.

    May 1, 2013 05:47 am at 5:47 am |
  7. mique

    Boy, I'm sure glad that the gun store owners won't be overburdened! What a crock. Could you give a grieving mother a better answer than that. Mental health is the biggest issue in this debate, but nothing will be done there. That would cost money. I totally agree that sane people should have the right to bear arms. Criminals and those with mental health issues should not. How to fix it? I do not know, but we need to keep working on it. None of our discussions should even include worrying about the how much burden is placed on gun store owners.

    May 1, 2013 05:49 am at 5:49 am |
  8. mightyduk

    She knows she cannot compete in the political arena on her own accord, she needs the support of the NRA.

    May 1, 2013 05:54 am at 5:54 am |
  9. Tizzy

    The guns used in Newtown were legally purchased firearms with a background check. How would a background check made a difference ? I understand the need for background checks but, we aren't gonna be able to stop evil. I know the argument of saving just one life. But what if you lose many more because you deny people the right to defend themselves.

    May 1, 2013 05:59 am at 5:59 am |
  10. Mball572

    Senator Ayotte is a coward and more concerned about ad funding form the NRA and other gun promotion groups than supporting common sense gun legislation.

    May 1, 2013 06:00 am at 6:00 am |
  11. Brad

    "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.""

    I don't think you can say it any clearer than that. I hope God is with Miss Lafferty and here family.

    May 1, 2013 06:00 am at 6:00 am |
  12. Bob

    Why can't people use logic and reasoning to form an argument instead of emotion anymore?

    May 1, 2013 06:02 am at 6:02 am |
  13. PaulG

    Again rabid gun grabbers, how would this legislation have prevented Newown.

    May 1, 2013 06:06 am at 6:06 am |
  14. Kevin

    The proposed legislation would not have stopped Newtown, Aurora, etc. Nothing to be confronted over.

    May 1, 2013 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  15. Harley

    Maybe you should think about the kid that did the killing instead of the method he chose.

    May 1, 2013 06:09 am at 6:09 am |
  16. Steve

    GOP is in full flight from reality on this issue.

    May 1, 2013 06:09 am at 6:09 am |
  17. Kris

    "A burden on gun store owners"? Really? That's all you have?

    That is truly despicable.

    May 1, 2013 06:12 am at 6:12 am |
  18. jacksays

    so... the poor kid got talking points as a response, including the buzz words "working across the aisle." i'm sure that went far in bringing her mom back to her.

    May 1, 2013 06:12 am at 6:12 am |
  19. yvonne patterson

    To the law makers making excuses & holding up progress toward making stronger & better gun laws. You should be ashamed of yourselves for showing a huge lack of humility in the case of the killings that occured in Connecticut last December....why on earth is so hard for congress to simply make choice on making things better for human-sake rather than for the sake of money. Who cares if gun sellers will be burdened by a law that will save lives. We should only care about saving lives FIRST & everything else should stand in line and wait its turn. We always forget that we are all human ah share the same heirachy needs. Please have humility.

    May 1, 2013 06:14 am at 6:14 am |
  20. FubarObama

    I wish CNN would ask these tough questions to our supposed leader in the White House on a number of controversial decisions he makes. Instead they give him a hall passes and never put his back against the wall. Background checks would never have prevented Newtown shootings.

    May 1, 2013 06:17 am at 6:17 am |
  21. Vote her out

    Vote her out .... Accountability for her sctions

    If only their relative is involved will they change their views ... The republican senator who posed gay marriage all his life .... Until he learned his son was gay ..... And then .... He was pro gay marriage

    May 1, 2013 06:18 am at 6:18 am |
  22. Seth

    Way to go CNN – right back to your agenda!

    May 1, 2013 06:19 am at 6:19 am |
  23. Chris

    If the laws that are already made were enforced there would not be most if these problems.

    What happens when folks do not seek medical attention because they will be labeled in the system?

    May 1, 2013 06:23 am at 6:23 am |
  24. Irrational Exuberance

    When facts don't support you then just appeal to emotion.

    Every Single Gun Used At Sandy Hook Was Legally Purchased By A Person Who Passed A Background Check.

    May 1, 2013 06:24 am at 6:24 am |
  25. bobcat19

    Bye Bye ,Senator One Term. The people spoke and you refuesd to listen.You've spent more time following Miit Romney around the country than serving the citizens of NH.
    Your vote against background checks assures that your days in the senate are drawing near.

    May 1, 2013 06:25 am at 6:25 am |
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