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. Mike

    You've really got to wonder why people are getting upset about not passing legislation that would have zero impact on gun violence. When emotion rules, logic and reason are forgotten. Let's actually work on the problems we have and stop wasting time on "feel good" laws that will get people elected, but serve no other purpose.

    May 1, 2013 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  2. Josh

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

    Well said.

    May 1, 2013 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  3. Norman Autrey

    A burden on gun shop owners? What a crock! Universal back ground checks for all sales of firearms is a certified no-brainer, which is why some of these gutless politicians will have to answer to the voters when they come up for reelection. As a gun owner myself, and the son of a career state police officer, and a veteran of the US military, I just can't understand the cowardice of these politicians.

    May 1, 2013 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  4. James

    First of all, the defeated bill would have had no impact on a situation such as that which occured at Sandy Hook. It is a horrible thing that the girl's mother and the other teachers and the children were murdered, but this is a case of "two wrongs don't make a right." The bill was poorly written, as is most legislation, and needed to be defeated.

    May 1, 2013 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  5. SoAreU

    Senators who back the gun sellers are destined to be replaced. don't expect this subject to simply be swept under the rug just because you say so senator.

    May 1, 2013 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  6. Chris

    God willing, she will pay for her lame stance with the loss of her seat in the Senate. She does not deserve it. She is there to represent the people – who overwhelmingly support tougher controls – not gun store owners. The seconds amendment calls for a "well regulated militia", not any Tom, Dick or Harry to buy anything they want. An by the way – is Guns that kill people.

    May 1, 2013 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  7. Bukoff

    Does Erica Lafferty know her mother was killed by a legal gun, whos owner had to have a back ground check in order to purchase it? Why is this a headline? Why isnt any one addressing the true issue here, MENTAL HEALTH! Time to put the crazy's back in the nut house!!!

    May 1, 2013 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  8. timmottly

    One of my least favorite phrases: "across the aisle"......
    Why does every issue always have to be "us" versus "them"?
    The debate always comes down to Republicans vs Democrats.....why isn't the debate about individual accountability? Not just this issue – but EVERY issue. Too many politicians that vote based on their party affiliation rather than voting for what they truly believe is right.....

    May 1, 2013 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  9. j791

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

    Statements like the one above are the reason the bill did not pass. People vote off facts not emotions and the entire Sandy Hook incident has been facts vs. emotions. Tell me how a background check would have prevent the shooting? The guy stole a rifle from his mother, shot her in the face with it and then murdered many more.

    May 1, 2013 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  10. Mike in NH

    We all feel horrible about the senseless Newtown shooting by a very disturbed young man, but the proposed compromise legislation wouldn't altered Newtown. The guns were owned by a the shooters mother who was trained and had a license for her legal arms. The mother failed to believe that her son's mental breakdown was a threat to her or anyone else. You can't make a law to over that.

    So let's not use a tragedy as a political foil to fix something that had nothing to do with the outcome.

    May 1, 2013 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  11. OhioGirl

    Ms Lafferty - sorry about the loss of your mother, but your loss should not be a reason for others to lose freedoms. There was NOT ONE THING in that Senate bill that would have changed Sandy Hook. Not one!!!! We all suffer tragedies in our lives whether it be losing a child to cancer, or a loved one to a drunk driver, or freak accidents. We deal with them. You do not take YOUR loss and impinge on MY rights because you "feel" like you have to do "something".

    May 1, 2013 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  12. Dennis

    The Senator said the universal background checks would have burdened dealers but she should have added that they would not have prevented the tragedy at Dandy Hook Elementary School. The universal background is a "red hearing" which primarily burdens the law abiding public. As tragic as the Sandy Hook shooting was, where would we be as a Country if we passed a new law to cover every tragic incident that occurred?
    In their sorrow the good people of Sandy Hook feel that gun control id good for them in their circumstance. They voted in strict gun control measures for their community and that is the American way.
    However, other parts of the Country have a very different view of guns and are not in favor of gun control In spite of their grief those Sandy Hook folks have no right to impose their will on the rest of us. That is what the Senators who voted against the bill were saying. They realize the law would not prevent gun crime.
    To control gun crime enforce existing firearms laws and improve the mental health system to identify and treat the dangerously mentally ill. That is what would have prevented all of the recent tragedies including Sandy Hook Elementary.
    Chicago has the strictest firearms laws in the nation and over 500 children have been killed by criminals with guns during the past year. This will continue until they confront the real problem, the criminal.
    Millions of guns in the hands of law abiding citizens have committed no crime. It's not the gun.........

    May 1, 2013 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  13. Michael

    So her vote against stricter background checks was all about not placing a possible burden on gun shop owners instead of trying to do anything that might help keep guns out of the hands of those that pose a risk? Hopefully, the voters will keep that in mind. Placing money above life isn't the right path to take.

    May 1, 2013 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  14. lol at the gop

    repukians are a joke, paid there pocket with blood money and you will win every timw

    May 1, 2013 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  15. mcwreiole

    Ms Lafferty; I am so sorry for your loss and the loss of so many others. I am not a gun owner, never have been but I know lame, feel good" legislation when I see it. This legislation does nothing to address the violence in our society perpetrated by Hollywood and video game makers. This legislation does nothing to address the problem of the mentally ill in our society. We can put all the controls on gun-purchasers that we want and all we will have is Chicago, where only the criminals can have guns and the law-abiding citizens are left defenseless. This gun legislation is short-sighted, as most of the solutions put forth by this administration, and as unfortunate as it is, will only serve to distract all of us from the real issues at hand.

    May 1, 2013 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  16. king

    these repubs put people who are paying them money interest over their constituencies who they are supposed to be representing, Washington has become a place which money talk and their constituencies walk. these repubs doesn't represent the average American Joe, they represent big corporations that will push a few hundred thousand dollars in their pocket and a wink wink. hell with the people on in their states.

    May 1, 2013 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  17. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    "I'm just wondering why the burden of my mother being gunned down in the halls of her elementary school isn't as important."
    -------------------------------------------------
    How much doyou think your mother would've been able to contribute to Sen. Ayotte's next re-election campaign? If she were alive that is?
    Correct.
    Now how much do you think th NRA could funnel towards Sen. Ayotte's re-election campaign fund? Correct. And remember, the NRA and the gun manufacturers it really represents are immune to being killed in mass shootings like your mom. May she rest in the only peace she'll get.

    May 1, 2013 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  18. Name jon

    I don't understand why Americans don't vote these people out of office. We continue to vote the same Senators and Congressmen back in office. I guess its because we are living too good. People are ignorant when it comes to voting. The vast majority of Americans can't even tell you who the vice president is. When they go and vote ,most just vote for a name they recognise. What a shame. Just plain stupid. Maybe we should put your congressmen and senators on " American Idol"or some other stupid show on TV. Americans have the power. Maybe we are just to stupid to use it.

    May 1, 2013 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  19. demogoat

    Why would you expect a member of the tea party to do anything in any way on any topic on any day.

    May 1, 2013 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  20. Virginia

    It will never matter to these people until it happens to one of their family members. Some people love their guns more than their children. Shameful!!

    May 1, 2013 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  21. OrmondGeorge

    At this point, NRA owned Congress people are going to have to DECIDE
    1) MINDLESS/BRAINless NRA loyalty and "campaign contributions"
    OR
    KEEP MY JOB.

    You can no longer speak, campaign, vote against background checks for ALL gun transactions. We are GOING TO HAVE THEM. If you don't like the way the paw is written, your best hope of reelection will be to consort with those already writing background legislation to get a law you CAN sign. Otherwise, figure that you will be going home after your next election.

    May 1, 2013 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  22. Suburban dad

    This is a mental health issue. Obama doesn't want to resolve it. He wants it on the front page every day to put money in his pockets from his liberal supporters.

    May 1, 2013 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  23. The Real Tom Paine

    “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.

    No, what they will do is blame liberals for not allowing armed "volunteers" with no real training in these situations to fire on an armed intruder who has the jump on them. When a gunman in NYC shot up an office and the police ( who are trained for this) responded, several bystanders were shot. I doubt that the gun huggers will accept that as an indicator that perhaps their suggestions of arming teachers might not be the best solution.

    May 1, 2013 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  24. Wake up People!

    I'm sorry for your loss Erica, but the GOP could care less. For them, it's all about the Benjamins.

    May 1, 2013 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  25. an American

    Senator Ayotte,
    The NRA called. Your check is in the mail.

    May 1, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
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