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. Ralph

    I wish it were as easy as saying "Increased background checks", but it's not. Background check against what database? You've got to make each state submit the data accurately. Mental illness? Same problem except now you're adding HIPAA issues into the mix. And even if you can do all that, now you've got more government employees at both the state and federal level. And you've done nothing to prevent someone possessing a stolen weapon.

    May 1, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  2. thesaj

    Because the proposed gun law as written would have basically done nothing to have prevented Newtown or other tragedies. And had the potential to make many good citizens potential felons.

    May 1, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  3. ritmocojo

    "Mental health is the one area that I hope we can agree on going forward to work on..."

    Starting with Sen. Ayotte"s.

    May 1, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  4. Lynn

    You know i am loosing compassion for those families of Newtown. Let me ask them a question. Why the hell did you idiotic people rely on gun free zone sign to make your children safe, and why when offered a solution that is proven to work do you turn it down? Far as i am concerned if you can't be responsible yourself you have absolutely no right to attack anyone over this issue.

    May 1, 2013 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  5. Lisa

    For everyone that voted no, there should be a mock gunman at there kids school or at there grandchilds school and lets see if they start voting yes.

    And for all you people that are not for the guns, lets see it happen at your childs school, when it happens at the schools etc. your gun that you own is worthless, you are helpless, because there is nothing you can do to save your child from the gunman at school, but you can try and prevent the nut gunman from getting a gun.

    May 1, 2013 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  6. MightyMoo

    So in short senators like Sen. Kelly Ayotte believe buisness > your family members life. Good to know where people stand in America next time I got to the voting booth.

    May 1, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  7. jsmoulder

    The Democratic agenda will not be satisfied till we have the same kind of gun control laws as Chicago. And we all have to live in the same kind of war zone Chicago has to. 3 murdered 17 wounded last night in Chicagoland, toughest gun control laws in the country.

    May 1, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  8. spencer1989

    In your research of active and current guns laws then look closely at how many violations were reported to the justice department during the last two years and how many prosecutions were made.....It might raise your eyebrows. Why so few of convictions? No money. It was funneled into more important (stupid) programs.

    May 1, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  9. Jason B

    I congratulate her for standing for what she believes, upholding and defending the Constitution which is the oath she took and became responsible for upon election to office. It's too bad more elected representatives only want to tear down everything this country believes in.

    And while I feel bad for the families of Newtown and other massacres, they could've all been prevented if PARENTS were RESPONSIBLE, brought their kids up right, keep them in Church, and teach them right from wrong, respect for others, and just plain common decency. Without that, NO amount of laws or "control' will fix anything.

    May 1, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  10. mike

    The guns belonged to the kids mom, not the deranged kid. The mom would have most likely passed a background check. wake up people and see the FACTS!!!!

    May 1, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  11. Alex

    The whole "this legislation would not have prevented Sandy Hook" argument just goes to show you how feeble minded repubs are. What about the other hundreds of thousands of Americans that have been killed by NRA-sponsored WMD's in the last decade? What about the victims in Tucson, CO, or Virginia Tech, whose killers were insane and bought their own weapons from a gun seller accomplice? We threw our right to privacy out the window when a few thousand Americans were killed by terrorists, but hundreds of thousands are killed be fellow Americans with WMD's and no new laws? No, Ayotte is a pathetic excuse for a politician, and the moral decay in this country starts with the NRA.

    May 1, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  12. Jason B

    I congratulate her for standing for what she believes, upholding and defending the C o n s t I t u t I o n which is the oath she took and became responsible for upon election to office. It's too bad more elected representatives only want to tear down everything this country believes in.

    And while I feel bad for the families of Newtown and other massacres, they could've all been prevented if PARENTS were RESPONSIBLE, brought their kids up right, keep them in C h u r c h, and teach them right from wrong, respect for others, and just plain common decency. Without that, NO amount of laws or "control' will fix anything.

    May 1, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  13. Just mee

    Lets say the law was put into effect. Let's even say that it was done 10 years ago. That would NOT have stopped the Newtown killing. Gun control DOES NOT control criminals! DUH. The guns were purchased by the MOTHER. She would have passed all checks. People do not want to hear the real answers to problems in our society. They have been decades forming, and if we ever solve them, it will take a generation or more. We approve abortion pills for 15 year olds, Doctors 'snip' new born babies spines to kill them. Religious values are disdained and ridiculed, and then we wonder why there is so much rape and killing going on. Wow, are the dots that hard to connect??

    We have drug laws, and we all know that fixes the whole drug problem. That's why they are now legalizing pot in many places. The highest crime areas are also the ones with the strictest gun laws (New York, California, DC). Laws just effect the people who are NOT the problem!

    May 1, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  14. KeninTexas

    I can appreciate this woman feeling so strongly about gun control after her mother was killed. However, she is wrong to try to use this as a hammer to attack the Senator on her vote. The background check would not have stopped the shootings at Newtown. The guys stole the weapons and would not have had a background check to go through.
    I find the gun ban advocates very disingenuous in using these victims the way they have, especially President Obama bringing them to testify to Congress at tax payer expense. Did you notice he didn't bring victims that were not pushing his gun ban plans? Only people that agreed with them. I think these people should stop taking advantage of victims pain and suffering by using them as pawns in their games.

    May 1, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  15. Is it possible?

    Please excuse my ignore but If most of the people in this country want the laws on the gun, why not prepare a propaganda so that the senators who voted against the bill never come back into power again and at the same time only support them who are for this bill?

    May 1, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  16. Seriously

    The NRA is the largest organized terror group in the world. And to see our 'offense' by being bombed at the Marathon yet our absolute insolence in refusing to deal with the American Gun Problem makes my head spin. Our priorities are so sick and twisted in this country. The gun lovers are nothing more than terrorists killing more Americans on American soil than ANY terror group ever has or ever will. And killing more Americans than have perished in the Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan conflicts in five years. That any politician on the dole is more concerned about a gun shop owner's rights than citizens' rights is criminal.

    May 1, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  17. ted1355

    Yes and NO
    Yes politicans should do something!
    No background checks won't stop the next Tragedy!
    But You all become part of the problem buy being negitive, There are a million smart people in America please step-up and help find a path to stop the murders of Children...

    May 1, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  18. MC

    This story makes no sense considering a background check did in fact deny Adam Lanza from buying a firearm. With all due respect, more extensive background checks would not have prevented her mother's death. She should be more focused on fighting what I would call "optional gun free" zones, where the only people carrying a firearm are doing so against the law.

    May 1, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  19. Due Diligence

    The simple fact is that the overwhelming majority of firearm owners are law-abiding, tax-paying citizens that own and use their firearms in safe, responsible, and legal manors. It is these people that are affected by hastily written and not fully thought out legislation.

    The proposed laws would NOT have prevented Sandy Hook. However, if Mrs. Lanza secured her firearms, Sandy Hook would have been prevented.

    Common sense and responsibility can not be legislated. It must be learned and reinforced. The efforts and money being poured into more legislation would be better utilized for public firearm safety education.

    Lastly, if background checks are so benign would you have objection if the government required a background check for you to practice your religion? Or if you wanted to convert to practice Islam? Clearly, if you have nothing to hide, then a religious background check would be fine... or would it?

    The Bill of Rights is not a menu to pick and choose the ones you like and ignore those you don't.

    May 1, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  20. Konstantin

    Do something!!!, excuses are not action.....death continues good people stand still

    May 1, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  21. SC

    I'd like to see the real empirical research that proves that aiding law enforcement in regulating the trafficking of weapons won't do a thing. I am weary of hearing that theory asserted with absolutely nothing to back it up except a bunch of gun rights proponents who "know" we should all think like they do. Except that we don't and do not want to.

    May 1, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  22. DragonRam

    As the brother of someone killed with a gun, I sympathize with Miss Lafferty's pain. But how does she or anyone else think that expanding background checks would have stopped the shooting that killed her mother? Adam Lanza didn't buy the guns he used to murder those kids and teachers, so a background check wouldn't have stopped him. No bill I've seen introduced so far would have stopped the massacre.

    May 1, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  23. Justin

    The NRA was a huge reason this gun bill failed (that and the spineless activity of elected officials). Back to the NRA......they held Adam Lanza as a member....can we blame the NRA for not supervising and investigating people who are members of their organization?

    May 1, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  24. Charlie

    The Bill of Rights protects all citizens. Now unless you consider the mentally ill and felons to be non-citizens; their rights to own bear arms shall not be infringed (aka limited).

    However, the better question for my liberal friends is this: If these people are such a danger to society that they cannot be trusted with a gun then why are they out walking the streets?

    May 1, 2013 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  25. mnsunine

    There is no change with a law or no law. The school shooting was used by a weapon of an approved background check, it was stolen by a disturbed person. So this new law wouldnt have prevented anything! You dont see a ban on cars where theres a vehicular homicide, do you? Not saying to look away at the issue, but look in the right direction.

    May 1, 2013 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39