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. Dave

    How can you go wrong by everyone being background checked? Sure things are still going to happen, but can't we take all logical (no-brainer) precautions? I hope we hold our politicians accountable.

    May 1, 2013 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  2. topperG

    Liberals always create a tense environment. They try and force their beliefs on people to the point where you just want don't want to be around them. Their way or the highway.

    May 1, 2013 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  3. mike

    I would really feel more safe living in a world that lacked extremism, right or left, than a world without guns.
    We are too damn safe as it is!
    No natural predators, little birth control, diminished threat of disease.
    Our life expectancy keeps going up, and the qualty of life keeps going down.
    More guns, more fun!

    May 1, 2013 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  4. Disgusted

    Senator Ayotte, and all the others who voted on this sensible bill, is a COWARD and a toady in thrall of the NRA. All of them should be in thrall of the American majority, but they are not. Their best reward is to lose their seats the next time they are up for election.

    May 1, 2013 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  5. Chris

    The attack,..er..I mean the question which came from the attacker, er..I mean the daughter., was dishonorable. As is CNN's coverage of it.

    The honorable question would be "Why aren't we talking about ANY proposed laws that WOULD have actually prevented this tragedy?" The proposed law doesn't even bother with the charade that it would have altered this outcome in any way.

    Of course, the reason we are NOT asking the honorable question is because this Lafferty woman, and her happy accomplices at CNN, are intentionally obfuscating the issue. They'd rather have a political hatchet in their hand, than their loved one's hand.

    May 1, 2013 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  6. RKN

    We know that a human life is not as important to the GOP as the ability to purchase a gun easily.
    Unless that human life is the result of rape....

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

    What a shameful response by the senator!
    "better enforcement", is this the code word for spending more, taxing more and funnelling more to Big Security? Why not just start a war and get it over with.

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

    When asked why she voted against the background check she could have just answered with 'Because nothing in that background check bill would have prevented your mother from being killed! Nothing in that background check bill would have prevented a crazy kid from killing his (legal gun owning) mother just so he could gain access to her guns and kill the students at that school and your mother!"

    May 1, 2013 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  9. Hmm....

    Guns dont kill people cars do.

    May 1, 2013 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  10. James

    While I feel for the families of Newton, when is everyone going to wake up and see the truth. The Bill that failed in the Senate would not have made any difference. It would have burdened legal gun owners for no gain. And the "NO GAIN" is the important part. When someone actually proposes a change that will make a difference, I will stand behind it 100%, a few extra dollars, paperwork, or hassle aside.

    May 1, 2013 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  11. john

    While Newtown was a horrible tragedy, the truth is that increased background checks won't stop the psychos from doing what they do. The Newtown shooter had no criminal history so even if they checked him for the rest of his life, he was legally entitled to purchase a weapon if wanted to do so. So what they're asking for is a "band aid" approach to the much bigger problem of mental health. You can be hearing voices and having all kinds of homicidal thoughts, but if you've never been arrested, you can buy whatever you want.

    May 1, 2013 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  12. Mark Bernadiner

    Both parties, as well as Americans, are brainwashed by media and government on the background check. They would not like to understand, or incapable, that America has a culture of disrespect to human life. Look at the TV shows movie industry, all are saturated with bloody crimes 24/7. Parents do not fill responsible for educating their own children in the issue and do not keep responsible for consequences. Media and filmmakers do not keep responsible for consequences of their production. All these brainwashed people attack wrong targets. Interesting, nobody blames carmakers for fatal accidents and demands closing car production.

    May 1, 2013 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  13. Dave

    "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. There is absolutely NOTHING anybody can do to ensure that that does not happen again, unless of course you remove EVERY gun from the planet, and ensure no more are made, even for the military and police!

    May 1, 2013 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  14. Mike Texoma

    Senator Ayotte needs to know that holow excuses and lame rationalizations are not good enough.

    May 1, 2013 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  15. Texas

    Vote her out of office for being a Shill for the Gun Lobby and not representing us 90% ers.

    May 1, 2013 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  16. Thomas

    Because Erica Lafferty lost a family member in the shooting, I would imagine that her opinion is emotionally subjective on the topic (as it should). A member of her family was murdered. Of course she is upset. It would be unreasonable to expect her to be otherwise. But, it also makes her opinion biased.

    This is why lawyers/judges/other professionals when emotionally involved in an issue will recuse themselves as they recognize the risk of allowing their subjective opinion conflict with what should be decided based on an objective opinion.

    We don't want laws enacted based on subjective emotional opinions. Laws need to be enacted based on objective unemotional rational.

    While I have sympathy for Erica Lafferty's terrible loss, her subjective opinion is really irrelevent to the question of enacting laws.

    May 1, 2013 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  17. dinaanid

    It's called "leadership". And saying "...we should have a fuller discussion to make sure that doesn't happen again." is NOT LEADERSHIP.

    May 1, 2013 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  18. luvlar

    And the clueless masses continue to believe gun control laws will solve the problem.

    May 1, 2013 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  19. john

    Increased background investigations would not have been the answer. It is a "band-aid" approach to make the public feel better. The Newtown shooter had no criminal history and thus would have passed. You can be hearing voices and having all kinds of homicidal thoughts, but that's a mental health issue and has nothing to do with national and state crime records.

    May 1, 2013 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  20. some guy in New Hampshire

    Ayotte is my senator. She's a Republican cog with a record so far undistinguished by anything good or useful. She does what the party tells her to do. She does it in part because she has ambitions for the spotlight but her ambitions outstrip her abilities. She's going to have a hard go of it when she runs for re-election in 2016.

    May 1, 2013 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  21. seanster5977

    Nothing that has been put forward in the current gun legislation would have any bearing on any of those mass shootings.

    May 1, 2013 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  22. David

    Congress can screw up a one car funeral – even when it invovles one of their own.

    May 1, 2013 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  23. Todd Gershon

    When are people going to stop blaming all the issues with gun control on the mentally ill. the real reason is there are not enough laws in place to protect the innocent. the 2nd amendment was written over 200 years ago the world was a different place. there is no reason in the world for people to own assult rifles unless you are the police or the military. If you need a shotgun or rifle to go hunting fine but thee is no need for assult rifles. You do not need large magazines to hunt a deer or armor piercing shells to shoot a bird. The NRA could care less about those children who died in Newtown they only care about there own perverse agenda. theu use fear and intimidation on Senators who fear them, but if all the polls are correct the people will speak during the next election and alot of people will be out of work. the will of the masses will outshine the fear spread by the few.

    May 1, 2013 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  24. John john the pipers son

    Ayotte expressed condolences for the loss of Lafferty's mother. LIP SERVICE!
    your're not fooling anyone Ayotte, expect more of the same! expect to be uncomfortable!
    I'm glad when people like Erica Lafferty take on a challenge that affects most Americans.
    Guns are serious business and need not be sold so easily.

    May 1, 2013 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  25. Andy

    Since when do 20 people get to trample the rights of 300 million

    May 1, 2013 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
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