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. Anonymous

    @Big D – The same liberals want an ID and background check for purchasing a gun – makes sense to me, but don't want you to have to have ID to vote????
    The same Repubs want ID to vote but no background checks for buying weapons – see the hypocrisy!!

    May 1, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  2. dotheflippin'math

    The "knee-jerk" reactions are from those who responded to Newtown by running-out and buying guns and ammunition, and recommending that everyone from teachers to principals should carry guns in our schools. The more guns out there, the more threat for gun violence, especially accidental incidents, as we read in the paper every day. The NRA has far too much power over the Republican party, and even over some Democrats. The NRA is an enemy to rational gun control. They only care about 1 thing: money. Gun and ammo sales went through the roof after Newtown, when the logical response should have been the opposite: people with guns, especially those with mentally ill family members, getting rid of those guns, and the rest of saying, "GUNS ARE BAD!" That anyone can buy a deadly gun without a background check, or buy 15-bullet clips for any reason, is absurd. Guns aren't cheap, and in this economy, a lot of folk are selling their guns, to anyone who will buy. The more guns available, the more they will fall into the wrong hands. That's the simple logic. Nobody in office would suggest taking away guns from hunters, or even those who keep a pistol for self-defense, but that's not the BS the NRA and GOP are spouting. They want to make people think the gov is going to take ALL the guns away, causing gun owners to panic and stockpile weapons and ammo. A lot of these crazies think we're on the brink of another civil war. This is exactly what the NRA and gun manufacturers want them to think. All the more reason to put more controls on them. People are insane.

    May 1, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  3. Jill-IN

    Ayotte spoke down to Lafferty in a very patronizing way. She wasn't disrespectful in her words but her patronizing tone, and Ayotte's reason that "we need to make sure this doesn't happen again" flies in the face of her NO vote. The guns the deranged young man used were not stolen – his mother would buy guns and ammo and give to him as gifts. I suspect that neither of them would have passed background checks if they would pick up mental health information accurately. His mother was also have serious emotional and security issues.

    May 1, 2013 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  4. FLIndependent

    @Big D – The same liberals want an ID and background check for purchasing a gun – makes sense to me, but don't want you to have to have ID to vote????
    The same Repubs want and ID to vote but no background checks for the purchase of weapons – see the hypocrisy!

    May 1, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  5. Alas for the world

    Gee....like ANOTHER law will help.....this mental moron who shot up Sandy Hook broke like 30 laws doing what he did (suicide included).... how is one more law going to do anything????? I get so tired of hearing the "talking heads" saying AFTER the massacres our country is seeing in recent years that "They did show some 'warning signs' before they committed this horrible act."

    Well heck, here's a solution....with all the mental health experts we seem to have in this country, why don't they get split into teams (workplace, school, retail, etc.) and check every single person for any 'warning signs' and then detain anyone they find as being a probable violent crime issue????

    Let's get pro-active in stopping the loonies instead of passing meaningless laws that make it harder for law-abiding citizens to purchase what they want / live the way they desire legally!!!!

    May 1, 2013 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  6. TSB8C

    This background check bill wouldn't have done anything whatsoever to prevent such a tragedy. Criminals don't submit to background checks to buy guns, This is proven by the extremely small percentage of the current NICS checks that end up in a denial to an applicant trying to purchase a gun. And given the fact that the government doesn't even prosecute those that are denied further proves that the current laws already on the books aren't even enforced. Creating new ones won't help when they aren't going to be enforced either. As for the mentally ill, most states do not supply that data into the NICS database. This new proposal wouldn't have changed that either. The NRA has proposed a number of items that would have a real positive effect, but the government won't implement them. Here are a few:

    1. Armed guards in schools. We have them in court houses, airports, sporting events, banks, and numerous other places, but not in schools.
    2. Allow citizens who have passed background checks and training courses to carry on campuses. (Concealed carry on campuses)
    3. Put mental health patient info into the NICS system.
    4. Enforce existing gun laws not being enforced today.

    May 1, 2013 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  7. Cmn_sense

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

    I live in CT, we already have background checks. Lanza never had a background check because he didn't own any guns. This is all about exploiting the victims of a tragedy to push an aggenda. Background checks are an illusion of safety. The government does not rely on background checks to protect itself, it relies on armed security. That is the only way you can gurantee protection.

    May 1, 2013 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  8. Ceswho

    Sen Ayotte gave an oath to protect and defend the Constitution when she joined the Senate. Until the Constitution is amended she is just doing her job. Our President and his administration should call her and ask for lessons on following the Constitution.

    May 1, 2013 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  9. FLIndependent

    Got to wonder if all you gun supporters who keep saying the legislation wouldn't have prevented Sandy Hook if you are advocating for STRONGER legislation, like say banning assault weapons! This legislation got so watered down from the NRA and gun nut lobbiests that the only thing left was simple background checks and these cowards couldn't even pass that. They will pay for their vote come election time.

    May 1, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  10. Kip

    This would be more meaningful if this shooting wasn't a hoax orchestrated by FEMA. Sorry CNN...this isnt the first time you have faked news by order of a corrupt government. The video of your correspondents that were supposedly in Baghdad but were really behind a blue screen pretending to dodge ied's was very entertaining, yet you have never commented on it.

    May 1, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  11. Kory

    Criminals don't obey laws. So your saying if the newtown shooter would have only had a 10 round clip this would have not happened. Bad things are going to happen in this world we can't prevent it all. Laws will not either. Laws only hurt the people that obey them!

    May 1, 2013 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  12. Bryan Jordan

    I would sincerely like to understand how anything proposed in e recently defeated proposal would have saved 1 life in Sandy Hook? His mother legally obtained the firearms and he stole them, his mental health issues still haven't come to light fully because of hippa.

    The high capacity magazine ban will do little when a magazine change takes seconds.

    Have we talked about what drugs he is on or the batman killer? I think the debate is disingenuous at best unless we are able to take talk about it rationally without emotion but based on fact, wherever it may lead us.

    May 1, 2013 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  13. JohnK

    "a well regulated militia" are the words of our founders. Period!

    May 1, 2013 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  14. Jam.Nat

    The boorish and reactionary behavior of gun control advocates have killed almost any effort at dialogue involving gun control. Their derisive, deragatory attitude towards guns and gunowners plus and their remorseless act of humiliating and endangering ten's of thousands of honest fellow Americans by publishing their names and addresses, potentially opening them up to burglaries and intrusive checks is what killed this bill. Why should gun owners trust people who despise them? I like 99.999% of Americans who own guns had nothing to do with Sandy Hook and to lump us in with a lone nut only reinforces my belief that gun control advocates are not out to keep people safe, but soley want to ban guns.

    May 1, 2013 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  15. WW

    The sheep are hitting the fan. Watch out NRA. Your time is over.

    May 1, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  16. girish

    They lack morals , courage to do right things . They don't care about people , they care about being elected thr' lobby's finance . People should throw them out of congress and senate

    May 1, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  17. Terry

    blah blah blah – this country is tearing itself apart. We have PROVEN lying and hypocritical politicians (Obama being the king), yet there is nothing we can do about it except wait out the terms. We have cuts going into effect that is aimed purposely to hurt the American people, yet we are spending in places that do NOT need spending on, such giving away money to countries overseas, building monuments, etc.... we cant seem to hold anyone responsible for that either. Then, we have lawmakers attempting to pass laws that will do nothing but complicate our society, split our society, and criminalize the good....

    We are no longer a proud nation...we are a pathetic excuse for what use to be America.

    May 1, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  18. Nick-o

    Whether or not background checks would have stopped Newton tragedy is irrelevant to the obvious assertion that background checks should be performed. And, to retort the squirmy BS statement by the senator, background checks take 30 seconds to file. Baby steps, America, Baby steps

    May 1, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  19. frmrma

    I'm not a gun owner; never have been and probably never will be. But I am a big believer in our Constitution. Now, had this measure passed, what would the anti-gun crowd be pushing for after the next mass gun tragedy? Seriously, part of me wished it had passed (even though I was against it on principle), just so people would see that it would make no difference. And many of the same people that are for stricter measures for "public safety" purposes, were also very critical of other public safety measures (like the Patriot Act), because of its erosive nature with regards to our Constitutional rights.

    May 1, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  20. OldMo

    The president sends his kids to school with armed guards. I'm not suggesting every school can afford to have armed guards but why not train a few teachers for conceal and carry licenses? Another good idea might be to not advertise the school you send your kids to as a "gun free zone".

    May 1, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  21. clem kadiddle

    Gun control should be a Federal Mandate overriding all State Law. It's common sense. Hopefully Sen. Ayotte will not be re-elected . All of these bought and paid for politicians need to go.

    May 1, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  22. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    For all you gun toting right wing cowards who say a background check system would not have prevented the Sandy Hook tragedy, I say you are all WRONG! The reality is that had a federally mandated background check system been in place before these shootings, the psychological and psychiatric state of a mentally ill woman who bought guns for her mentally ill son would have prevented her from purchasing her weapons. Likewise, had this system been in play, the Virginia Tach shooter's criminal and mental health records as well as those of the Tucson, Aurora and Oal Creek shooters would have prevented them from getting their guns and going on their deadly rampage.

    May 1, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  23. PushingBack

    To those that oppose these gestures and measures because you feel they will not be effective or will not be followed by the "criminal" element out there, please understand that neither of these reasons fly with regard to other laws that impact our lives. We don't simply declare there are no speed limits because people still will speed. We don't declare theft is alright simply because some will continue to steal. We construct laws in order to provide structure to what our desired standard of living should be. Then we use this construct to remove those that continue to break those laws. You would rather we throw our hands up and say it's just not going to help. Progress may be slow but there will be progress.

    May 1, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  24. Todd

    Once you have a mental health database then true systematic fascism can begin. Once your depression diagnosis, no matter how legitimate and temporary, is logged into a governmental database, you will never again have the same rights as citizens who are not labeled mentally ill. Doesn't matter if you were depressed because you lost your job and your wife and kids died in a car accident. You are mentally ill, the database says so. Good luck ever getting your rights back.

    May 1, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  25. TomGI

    Ayotte is typical within the GOP.

    May 1, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
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