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. Ian Michael Gumby

    A bad law is one which is written as an emotional reaction to an event.

    If we look at the laws being proposed in response to Newtown, none would have done anything to prevent the shooting.
    Now that's a hard fact to swallow and as tensions calm, Americans are coming back to their senses.

    Politicians point to the fact that the majority of Americans what some form of gun control as an excuse to pass ineffective legislation so that they can go back to their constituents and claim to have at least done something. Even if the law(s) they pass do more harm in the long run than they do good.

    The 'Assault Rifle Ban' expired because it wasn't effective. Background checks are only as good as the information in the system that provides the checks. Creating new laws won't improve this, but better funding and better systems will. While we call for stiffer penalties on gun law violations, the same politicians are reducing funding for prisons forcing overcrowding or reduced sentences.

    Common sense has gone out the window. Most of the gun violence has been committed by people who can not legally own guns. Either they are underage or convicted felons. They have already made a choice to ignore the laws and will violate them anyway possible.

    The only way we can solve the problem is to first better define the problem, its constraints, and then work on a better long term solution. The first step to that is to remain calm, put your emotions in check, and listen to both sides of the argument. Until you can do that, you will never solve the problem.

    May 1, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  2. Wake up People!

    @ernie zippreplat....

    Show a little sensitivity, her mother was murdered in a school shooting. Doesn't she have the right to feel the way she does? We understand, you hate President Obama, and that's your right but this lady lost her MOTHER.

    And republicans call themselves the party of family values. A family of wolves have more respect than the average brain dead, Fux News watching republican.

    May 1, 2013 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  3. scranton

    This law would of done nothing to prevent Sandy Hook.

    May 1, 2013 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  4. Barry G.

    Unfortunately our senators and representatives (both parties) serve the interests of those who give them money, which in this case are the gun manufacturers and the NRA.

    You would think that they would serve the interests of the people who elected them, but you would be wrong.

    It's been this way since the administration of Ulysses S. Grant.

    Sadly few have had the good sense or courage to speak out about such a corrupt and self-serving form of "governance".

    See: the writings and works of Ralph Nadar, Lewis Lapham, et al.

    May 1, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  5. OrangePekoe

    Bravo Erica! You were spot on in your criticism of the idiots who are in bed with the NRA. Gun makers profits are ALL they care about while your loss and the losses of others from gun violence are unimportant to them.

    May 1, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  6. rockysfan

    "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.
    REALLY? Then maybe you should have voted for the CBC's on ALL gun sales. Blood on your hands and I hope you lose the next election because of it!

    May 1, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  7. JohnVet

    I wasnt aware that the newtown shooter purchsased his firearms and would have been subjected to background checks. Morons.

    May 1, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  8. Common Sense Advocate

    Last I checked Murder was illegal. We have a law that you cannot commit murder. That law did NOT stop them. What makes you think more laws would have stopped them? It's the people not the inanimate objects. Why are liberals so dense they can't understand this?

    May 1, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  9. Believer

    So many posts around Kelly Ayotte being called a coward. I think she is a brave patriot. She has the clarity of NOT letting a tragedy allow her to make passionate decisions on the spur of the moment legislation.

    May 1, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  10. JeepRex

    Kelly Ayotte knows that any knee jerk reaction and feel good legislation will do NOTHING to prevent another situation like Newtown. When are the idiots going to realize that its not the tool, but the person using the tool that is the issue?

    May 1, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  11. Terri

    Since most often guns are used to kill loved ones or someone known to the gun owner background checks for ALL guns sold will help by stopping people with a history of violence or abuse from buying a gun. While it isn't likely to stop a mass shooting, it will help with the most common, women murdered by their abusive significant other. It really is a shame this measure didn't pass.

    May 1, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  12. Logically Thinking

    Banning guns wont stop anything. Most CRIMINALS carry illegally. Law will only make it hard for people who dont already have them. Murder is illegal and people still do it. So banning guns really only makes people vulnerable. As a reminder Hitler also got Germany to disarm and we know how it played out after that.

    May 1, 2013 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  13. MediaSELLS

    OMG Are you people all idiots?? Seriously – THE WHOLE REASON why background checks are important is 1. It's a deterrent. Much like when you put LOCKS on your FRONT DOOR. That doesn't mean someone won't try to break in, but it will certainly buy you time to call the police. and 2. Because when these psychos with or without legal access to guns murder someone – they can THEN be processed and punished MUCH faster to the full extent of the law! Like when vehicular manslaughter cases get on a faster track when it involves a DUI. It's not rocket science people.

    May 1, 2013 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  14. Tom1940

    If Ms. Lafferty wants justice for her mother then why not sue Adam Lanza's Father for raising such a rotten kid. Obviously this "kid" had been troubled for years before his final "break" and crime. Where was "Daddy" then? Gun control as proposed by Sen. Feinstein and other gun control advocates is not the answer. Going after the perps and potential perps is a better solution.

    May 1, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  15. It's Sergeant to you!

    It's about creating an environment where people view guns/weapons in a more serious manner and not a political stance that focuses on outdated ideals.

    May 1, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  16. Snarky MacFee

    There really is no current system. The laws on the books make it possible for each an every "law" to be avoided. Background checks will NOT stop evil, however it might slow it down or prevent some. They are fine on spying on citizens and intruding on us all the time to stop "possible terror attacks" and defend it by saying that we havent had another 9/11 since. Yeah, putting that logic to it, then background checks can also be defended the same way. Question: Why is our government all about destroying our 1st and 4th Amendment rights, but get real protective of our 2nd Amendment rights? Think about it....no matter what side of this debate you land on, that observation is a hard fact.

    May 1, 2013 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  17. bob

    Good for the senator to stand up for her convictions.

    May 1, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  18. Jay

    Not one law would have stopped this. Stop being so naive people.

    May 1, 2013 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  19. Michelle

    Its not just one law that prevents crimes, it is a collection of laws, that prevent crimes. Why have drug laws, they aren't helping, they don't prevent kids from getting drugs. Why have any laws. Background checks are just a start! Then you put more laws into effect. You people are closed minded, look at the big pic, the checks are just a start! Just a start! Just a start! We can not sit here and do nothing!

    What about when an inmate is released from prison, the laws didn't prevent him from going out and raping and killing a person, so why have more laws that would keep him in prison, the first laws didn't keep him from offending again, so why have more legislation to keep prisoners in. etc.

    May 1, 2013 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  20. Michelle

    The laws didn't stop Newtown from happening, but maybe, just maybe it will stop the next tragedy from happening at your kids school.

    May 1, 2013 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  21. Justin

    Sandy Hook shootings occurred because a person stole weapons from a legal, law abiding gun owner. How in the world would back ground checks do anything to stop the situation from occurring? If you’re going to confront someone about an issue, at least have it be a valid issue.

    I'm for increased precautions on background checks, but to try and play a sympathy card on a subject that has nothing to do with the vote in question is just down right ignorant. I'm tired of Sandy Hook being the focal point for every arguement against guns in any way, shape, and form. It was a tragedy, granted, but you didnt see buildings torn down and rebuilt to withstand plane crashes after 9/11.

    May 1, 2013 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  22. Greater Good

    NRA already has influenced more guns in Churches, Bars, Colleges...now wants more on school grounds. But paradoxically, shouldn't be allowed at concerts or stadiums .... Or Congress. Because why..? Performers, athletes, and lawmakers matter more than our children?

    May 1, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  23. spencer1989

    Background check laws are already in place and have been in place with several laws that still exist since 1968. Research it. They may not work because OUR government cuts the money to support to fund other agendas (such as Obamacare). The proposed background checks could be the stiffest and toughest in the world and would not do a damn thing if the support and communication is not there. Just look closer at the FBI and CIA crap with the Boston bombing and you might ask yourself why they were not caught or stopped. The door of opportunity to stop them was there and the communication did not work. Passing duplicated laws is not the answer but more of fixing the problem. In Sandy Newton we were told it was an assault rifle for weeks and weeks only to find out it was in the car the whole time. The handguns were legally obtained and the background laws today or the proposed ones would not have stopped it. I have no problem with the background checks....So don't get me wrong. I just don't agree with putting a bandaide on something that is not the problem. And if you think getting mental help for someone is the answer, then take your local adult neighbor (that has a mental problem) down to the doctor to get treatment and see what they tell you. You can't because that person is of age and must be willing to accept the treatment. It cannot be forced on an adult that has not created any harm to anyone at that moment. Fear cannot be the reason to do so.

    May 1, 2013 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  24. John

    I think it is Democrats that will ultimately lose seats over this issue. It moved me from Democrat to Republican and many people I know feel the same way. These arguments are all so repetitive. See you in the voying booth.

    May 1, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  25. Rob

    What G-Edwards said is 100% correct.
    IT is terrible what happened and what happens across the world with these mass killings; however, the majority of legal gun owners would never think of carrying out these killings.

    What this bill would have done is make it tougher for legal gun owners, who 99% of the time are not the problem. Even the Mayor of Newark said that he wasn't concerned with the legal gun owner.

    Here is the thing, mass killings make for sensational headlines. But the media doesn't report of the daily killings in Chicago by criminals who have access to hand guns.

    WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME A CRIMINAL GOT A BACKGROUND CHECK? So my making more strict back ground checks, who are affected? Surely not the criminals who have easy access to guns.

    Go after the criminals, go after those who have been in prison for Attempted Murder but who are released in 5 years. Go after the person who has 30 arrests and is 26 years old. These are the people that need fixing. All these jump to it bills do nothing but hurt those who want to do the right thing. It is as though AMERICA is afraid of confronting the real issue and that is CRIMINALS. Criminals killing daily kill more than these mass killings in one year, they just aren't publicized as much.

    May 1, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
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