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. lathebiosas

    The senator forgot to mention all the campaign money she gets from the NRA as a factor in her decision. Just slipped her mind I guess....

    May 1, 2013 06:50 am at 6:50 am |
  2. W.G.

    The republicans , I´m talking of the rich leaders ( not the stupid poor ones that go along with them ) do not
    care for the safety of children , cancer treatment patients , or wether we can stop them from sending even
    more of our jobs overseas as long as people buy into their nightmare . Have you noticed how they keep
    trying to kill more of us Americans by wanting to send us into Syria ? There´s oil and minerals there to just like
    Iraq . There oil in our country and so what if they pollute our water and land tryingh to get it . Republicans
    who needs èm !

    May 1, 2013 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  3. Zack

    I believe it is time for "Newtown" to get out of the gun debate. Horrible things happened, we get it by now. But recent emotion does not need to interfere with serious law making. Not saying that i am against more background checks, but just using the deaths of 20 children to pass legislature is pretty low down.

    May 1, 2013 06:52 am at 6:52 am |
  4. Say What?

    Erica Lafferty, I think you and others need to be told. Just because you want gun control doesnt give you the right to infringe on my rights to have one, or make it harder or cost me more. You can demand more police, more enforcement of the current laws, but you can not infringe on the rights of others just because something bad happen to you. The constitution serves all and in all cases, not just when bad/good things happen. It protects us not just from each other but from the government it forms. Sen. Kelly Ayotte should have said as much.

    May 1, 2013 06:52 am at 6:52 am |
  5. TexasVoter

    Question: Being you say mental health should be an overriding issue, would you be against selling a gun to someone who is classified as mentally Ill. Sen: I do not believe anyone should be denied the right to purchase a weapon

    May 1, 2013 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
  6. SalManila

    The same Newtown where the people are now shamelessly clammering for their money? The same Newtown that voted down putting guards in their elementary schools even though they have them in middle and high schools? The same Newtown people that allowed themselves to become props for CT's governor and the President?

    Yes, what happened in Newtown is a tragedy. However, the legislation that is being proposed and the laws that have already been slammed through would not have done a darn thing to change what happned in Newtown. Even the people of Newtown acknowledged that by voting down putting guards in their elementary schools.

    One of the things that should've been learned from Newtown is that the more media attention they place on this tragedy, the more they elevate the shooter to a twisted celebrity status. It is actually a catalyst for other twisted minds out there that our Mental Health system ignores.

    If a relative of the victim of one of Connecticut's city's shooting victims were to have confronted Sen. Ayotte it wouldn't have even made a blip, let alone gotten white space on CNN.

    May 1, 2013 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  7. cribbooky

    "I'm just wondering why the burden of my mother being gunned down in the halls of her elementary school isn't as important." – It is important, and that is exactly why she should have taken her own safety and the safety of the children in her charge more seriously. Instead, she relied on administrative controls and fantasy that failed them, which is pure nonsense that psychos and criminals circumvent easily, much more easily than a defender with lethal capabilities of their own. What is the ridiculous response? More administrative controls that can be circumvented. You guys should consider that drug abuse was outlawed and restricted MANY DECADES AGO. Have you noticed how that is going?

    May 1, 2013 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  8. Name

    there is no mental health solution without background checks

    May 1, 2013 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  9. Name

    Doesn't anyone realize Adam lanza tried to buy a rifle but failed the back ground check which is why he stole his mother's guns?

    May 1, 2013 06:58 am at 6:58 am |
  10. brian

    I dont know how politicians can be so stupid there should have been a law like that since day 1 how many innocent people have to die first and honest gun owners whould not care unless most of them have something to hide

    May 1, 2013 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  11. abcd12

    You want to change the system of Congress starts at the voting booth .Simple They are more worried about gun dealers ,not the people .Lobby money talking . Now, would you take a pay cut ,not congress ,but will vote for there own pay increase. They are paid by the people and Lobby money $178,000 is not enough pay .

    May 1, 2013 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  12. Chuck T

    This simple and has little or nothing to do with second amendment rights , it does however have everything to do with money. You wan reasons why votes get cast yea or nay ? follow the money.

    May 1, 2013 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  13. rino

    Kelly Ayotte, everyone pls. remember this senator come next election.

    May 1, 2013 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
  14. Drew

    The guns Lanza used were purchased by his mother. Back ground checks wouldn't have done anything to stop it. Neither will they do anything to stop further attacks.

    May 1, 2013 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  15. Malfean

    This republican pig has no soul.

    May 1, 2013 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  16. Porky Rottenham

    Although she had the best intentions, more background checks would not have prevented Newtown. Whoever or whatever is misleading these victims needs to be dealt with very strongly.

    May 1, 2013 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
  17. Dryte

    "Don't change gun laws" say the lobbyists for the gun industry
    "OK, we won't" say the purchased Senators
    "Fix mental health. That will stop this" say the gun owners
    "OK, but to do that we need money, and so we will need to raise taxes and cut other programs" say the holders of the purse strings in Washington
    "No way, no how!" say the fringe interest groups, "Or you will be out of a job next election"
    "OK, we won't" say the Senators
    "WTF just happened?" asked the rest of the country. "We thought gun violence was a problem?"
    "Not as important as the gun lobbyists, gun owners, interest groups or, most importantly, our jobs" say the Congresspeople and Senators

    May 1, 2013 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  18. Adam

    Adam Lanza tried to purchase a rifle at Dick's Sporting Goods a few days before the shooting. He failed a background check and was denied. The background check system used was adequate and it worked, but it didn't stop him from stealing weapons, transporting them illegally, bringing them into a gun-free zone, or committing atrocities. The bill was at best a non-sequitur. Stop appealing to emotion and think!

    At least this daughter realized there will be another mass shooting, no matter what feel-good measures Congress takes.

    May 1, 2013 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  19. Jo-Ann Greene

    It saddens me beyond belief that we cannot come together and get this passed. I am a New Hampshire voter and I will remember.

    May 1, 2013 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  20. Stephen

    Can't upset those gun store owners.

    May 1, 2013 07:07 am at 7:07 am |
  21. DirtyAndy

    The views of a few thankfully do not become laws. Since everybody is buying up every piece of weaponry they can find will create a black market like drugs or anything else once the laws are passed. Once again only the bad guys will have access

    May 1, 2013 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  22. Steve

    It was bad legislation that was a knee jerk reaction to an incident. The politicians felt they had to do something even if it was ineffective. If the entire bill had passed as proposed, would it have stopped the Newtown tragedy? The shooter stole the firearms from the one person that should have known him best. She didn't report his behavior, or secure her firearms from him. How would any of the proposed laws help that?

    Having said that, I fully support the concept of keeping firearms away from criminals, and people with mental issues. Expanding current laws that would prohibit anyone that has a drug conviction (including marijuana) from owning a firearm would get a "yes" vote from me.

    I would also have no problem with requiring all transfers of firearms to go through an FFL. Some complain about requiring that of family and friends, but what does it really matter. Go to an FFL, pay the fee, transfer the weapon. Some families that are not close, could inadvertently transfer a firearm to an unqualified individual.

    May 1, 2013 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  23. noAd

    Why is it more difficult to buy contact lenses without a recent $450 eye exam than it is to buy to buy an AK47 with no ID or background check?

    Why is it more difficult to get through TSA checkpoints in an airport than to buy a semi-automatic rifle?

    Why is it more difficult to get birth control over the counter than to buy 100+ ammo clips?

    This country has gone insane.

    May 1, 2013 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  24. joep222

    A background check would not have changed the outcome at Newtown, since Lanza stole the guns from his mother. A background check would not have caught that.

    Gun control is treating the symptom, not the cause. The cause is mankind's evil, wicked and deceptive heart that rejects the truth of God.

    May 1, 2013 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  25. Shuffler

    What does background checks have to do with newton? Not a single thing.

    May 1, 2013 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
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