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. DMG2FUN

    "look at the big pic"
    The big pic is leftist aka progressive socialist attacking a right.

    May 1, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  2. Seth

    His mother would have passed a background check!!!! While not a bad idea, background checks will not stop people from getting their hands on firearms.

    May 1, 2013 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  3. Truth

    @ Michelle

    Try enforcing the EXISTING laws already out there to begin with.
    Michelle, you can also tell these maniacs that they are not welcome with their guns at a GUN FREE ZONE that is advertised as such...

    May 1, 2013 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  4. D. Acker

    "I'm just wondering why the burden of my mother being gunned down in the halls of her elementary school isn't as important." Why aren't these people asking why the mental health system failed so badly in this situation? Adam Lanza's mother had been seeking assistance with her son but apparently did not receive any help. She shoul;d have been more responsible with access to her weapons but the bottom line is that Adam Lanza KILLED the legal gun owner and STOLE the weapons he used that day in Sandy Hook. Nothing short of an out right ban and confiscation of legal weapons would have stopped his rampage that day.

    What gun control advocates don't want to admit is that expanded background checks would not have stopped the killings in Newtown, anymore than they would stop the murders in Chicago. Punishing the law abiding gun owner will not stop these types of crimes. As long as gun control backers focus on the inanimate object (the gun), they will be fought by those of us who are responsible, innocent, law abiding gun owners like me and my family. When they are ready to stop demonizing and attepting to shame the legal gun owners in this country maybe we can make some progress.

    May 1, 2013 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  5. joan

    gimme a break Conn. had/has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation. The kid took his moms gun, and she was legally allowed to have it. The propsed bill that was voted down would have done NOTHING to stop newton. These are just historical facts on the ground. I know when tradgey happens, we as americans cannot accept that things happen outside of our control. Death of a loved one is horrible. But get over yourself. You cannot blame someone else for the crazy random-ness of life. Again, no one is talking about the mentally ill that are running around in our environments or the seemingly normal people on meds (to stay calm) that are sitting beside you on the bus/subway in the morning. Im tired of the newtown masscre victims. We get it. But get over yourself. Stop trying to blame some tangible event or person for what happens. There is not always a reason. The gun laws Conn has coudnt stop it.

    May 1, 2013 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  6. ezduzit757

    The next time there's a mass shooting (and we all sadly know there will be a next time) Kelly Ayotte will not only have to answer to the voters of New Hampshire and explain why she did NOT represent them on this issue, she will have to look at herself in the mirror knowing that she had an opportunity to save lives, but she chose instead to cower to the NRA.

    May 1, 2013 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  7. Jesse

    270,00,000 million guns would be unaffected by background checks since private sales are done by cash mostly no way to prove a gun was transferred after the law passed. This would only affect new gun purchases and still leave the other 270 million. Instead of prohibition and spending way to much money on that simple police restructuring and simple building upgrades and you harden the target.

    May 1, 2013 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  8. AZDesert

    Nothing in the failed bill would have done anything to stop the Newtown shooting. That's all Kelly Ayotte should have said. Instead of passing meaningless laws, how about passing some laws that would have help prevent future shootings?

    May 1, 2013 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  9. Tiger_Fan

    The pain these people experienced in Newtown was & is horrific, and of course we hope & pray it never happens again. But please people, realize that stiffer background checks & other points of this proposal would not have prevented this attack. The Lanza boy attained these guns illegally after he stole them from, and used them to brutally murder his mother. I course tougher laws would've kept him from buying his own guns, but realize that the current laws already were successful in doing so. His mom on the other hand, had no reason to be denied her right to purchase a weapon, so even w/ tougher laws those guns would've been in the home. I won't debate her ethical decision to keep guns in the home of such a mentally troubled individual, that's a different topic. But the forgotten fact here is that he STOLE the guns he used, like a lot of criminals do. New legislation will never take guns out of the hands of bad people who are willing to break laws to get those guns. It only hinders the law abiding citizen and our right to protect ourselves. How about we push to enforce existing laws before we try piling new laws on top. Because if we can't use the ones we have, who says the new ones will be any better. Thanks

    May 1, 2013 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  10. Nimrod

    What happened at Sandyhook was awful, but mass killings are so rare as to be statistically non-existent, so making laws as a knee jerk reaction is just dumb, especially laws that would have had no effect on the situation at hand. So called "universal" background checks would have had NO effect on any of the recent "mass" killings and will only work if the government acquires a complete registry of ALL weapons in private hands in the US. Many of us are vehemently opposed to total gun registration. Registration has historically nearly universally lead to confiscation.

    May 1, 2013 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  11. PeteInOhio

    Folks, anyone looking for absolute protection from the government for all of life's hazards are seriously looking at complete degradation of individual rights. I absolutely understand folks concerns. But additional laws, background checks, and removal of self-protection devices will not result in reduction in crime. WAKE UP! There are bad people in this world and that will never change. Americans have gotten too complacent and comfortable under the security blanket provided by our military.

    For every country where crime has reduced because of the changes some folks are looking for, there is another country where people live in abject fear of either the government or the crime lords, or both. I refuse to be a sheep. Yes, the meek may inherit the world, but only after tough men and people fight the good fight and protect themselves instead of putting all faith in government.

    May 1, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  12. Paul R.

    Should the mothers of the Sullivan or Brogstrom brothers have guided American military strategy by "confronting a senator"? Should Lydia Bixby have had a say in determining whether Lincoln should have ended the Civil War? Should a Sandy Hook survivor's voice be given more weight than that of my wife, whose car was run off the road while driving alone in the Nevada desert by a man who then approached her car while playing with himself, only to discover that she had her gun pointed directly at his head? Should the mother of the Boston bombers be given a pulpit to declare that jihad is right? No. Each voice in America has an opportunity to be heard – but none is more "important" than another. And there is a Constitutional right involved. Grieve your loss, but realize that we are vulnerable every day, at the library, grocery store, workplace. All we can do is insist that we are allowed to empower ourselves to not become victims. We are at MUCH more risk of being attacked in our own homes or at an ATM than we are by a Newtown-like nutjob. We are becoming afraid of the wrong things.

    May 1, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  13. Dave

    First, It was an idiot that took the guns and he even killed his own mom. The individual has a mental problem and there are many out there that have access to guns that are mentally ill. It is a tragedy on what happened, but I do defend Sen Ayotte decision on how she voted. Do you think a background check would have stopped this: NO....you have one of the toughest cities (Chicago) that have strict gun aws and the have the most killing involving guns. So to say that a stricter background check is going to stop this, then we are in trouble. It's time we enforce laws that are the books and stop punishing the law abiding citizens. We need to mourn the tragedy of Sandy Hook and let these brave people rest in peace.

    May 1, 2013 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  14. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer


    Because it wasn't your love one who was murdered. If your approach is the our government is going to take as law makers, then we'd be doomed as a society. And yes, a background check system would have prevented the Sandy Hook tragedy simply because a mentally ill woman bought guns for her mentally ill son and had there been a background check system in play, she would have been denied purchse of her assault weapons. Likewise, if the Virginia teck shooter, the Colorado and Aurora shooters' criminal and mental health records were filtered through a federallly mandated background check system, all their victims woud be alive today. Your argument is pointless.

    May 1, 2013 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  15. sonny chapman

    Jesus said, "Do unto others as you would have done to you", Matthew 7,12. Can Sen. Ayotte honestly say she would be against this legislation if it were HER daughter that had been killed at Sandy Hook ? Can all of you "Christian" posters railing against this legislation say the same ? Conservative American Christians give Jesus a bad name.

    May 1, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  16. Ryan

    The laws didn't stop Newtown from happening, but maybe, just maybe it will stop the next tragedy from happening at your kids school."
    Really, like it would have stopped Newtown if the law was in place? Because criminals who are not allowed to buy or carry guns WOULD NEVER think about buying it illegally and carrying it huh? If we put a law in place that requires background checks for pressure cookers, maybe we can prevent another Boston bombing... Silly logic I know, but that is the same logic.

    May 1, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  17. jonline

    Wow. Good for the victim to speak up.

    May 1, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  18. Anton333

    The problem I have is the Newtown shooter would still have a room full of guns if this back ground check was in place so her opinion really doesn't matter. These knee jerk reaction laws allways have other things in the back of the law that gets in and then causes problems for the law abiding people. JMO

    May 1, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  19. scarf

    The failure of Congress to do anything about closing the background check loophole did nothing to protect the rights of legal gun owners. What it did was to protect the right of criminals and the mentally ill to continue to buy guns from private owners at gun shows. You would think legal gun owners would be against criminals being able to get guns so easily, but apparently not if it inconveniences them.

    May 1, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  20. Kevin

    People fail to realize that these were stolen guns. He did not obtain them legally. Making laws that will make it more difficult for law abiding citizens to get guns is not going to help.

    May 1, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  21. Alan

    Every time a legislator is asked about gun control, they tend to respond in the same way: "we need more discussion." No, folks, we don't. We've debated every aspect of this for decades and decades and new discussions are not going to provide more insights. We've talked this one to death, and we recognize the straw man being placed before us to grind us to a halt. We need action. We need legislation. Base it on the previous decades of discussion.

    May 1, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  22. Seriously...

    If a person ABSOLUTELY has to have a specific gun TODAY (can't wait the week or so for a background check or can't pass the limited restrictions) it's probably a problem...i own several guns–i have no problem at all with registration and background checks–i have NOTHING to hide...also as far as the second amendment–can we please stop talking about our right to bear arms and how the government wants to take away the 300 million guns already in play in the US ... Jeez, guys–it was meant for a Militia–and a single shot musket ( i own one of those as well)....it's such a dopey argument... c'mon people, common sense... please... this can ALL be so simple... get rid of the lobbyists and get rid of the crooks–keep an eye on wall street and make the govt accountable for every department–get out of foreign wars– clean up the streets... make certain ALL children have food and healthcare and education... adults are on their own... NOW!–bring US jobs home and make the corps pay their taxes–JUST like you and me!! its NOT about religion– jeez– its about working hard and getting everyone to play by the rules–help your neighbor- respect the planet!! this stuff is so easy...c'mon...get it together...be safe everyone...and keep smiling–it goes a long way....

    May 1, 2013 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  23. Michael

    Honestly I'm so tired of all of you crying "The government is in bed with the NRA" Because whether it's true or not, it's irrelevant to the topic at hand.

    Realistically, none of the proposed laws would do anything to stop Newtown, Aurora, or even Columbine.
    Think about it. Newtown: not a legal gun owner, stole from his mom. Aurora: Even if he was a legal gun owner, what would a background check (beyond what we already have in place) accomplish? Columbine: clearly a background check wouldn't have helped either.

    It's not the background checks that matter. They won't accomplish ANYTHING.

    May 1, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  24. Mike

    This wouldn't have changed anything with what went down in Conneticut or 95% of the shootings that take place in America... and Erica Lafferty is a pawn in a sick political game being played out for public consumption. Universal background checks wouldn't have saved her mothers life, period. Better mental health screening and a stronger community mental health system probably would have. I'm going to guess all of the guns used in that shooting were purchased LEGALLY and stricter background checks wouldn't have stopped his mother from buying them. It's already illegal for criminals and those with mental health issues to own or purchase guns, stricter background checks won't keep more guns out of their hands. Criminals will get guns illegaly on the black market, enforcing current laws will cut down on this. The one thing we law abiding citizens can do to keep our famalies safe, exercise your second ammendment right to keep and bear arms. It only takes one armed individual to stop a situation from turning into a tragedy...most sane (and insane) people will run when confronted by an armed person. I 'm legally armed almost every day because I refuse to be a victim.

    May 1, 2013 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  25. dennis

    Everyone who voted against this needs to be held accountable. They helped kill people. May God Forgive Them and their Stupidity.

    May 1, 2013 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
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