Daughter of Newtown victim confronts senator
April 30th, 2013
07:39 PM ET
2 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. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    BAN the coward NRA GOPT'D gun toting fools in Washington come next election and problem solved!

    May 1, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  2. shorty55

    oh so a background check would have prevented the sandy hook shootings? OR did this guy STEAL these guns and shoot those people- oh, right, he did... don't let those pesky FACTS mess you up commie !

    May 1, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  3. Thomas

    A Kentucky mother stepped outside of her home just for a few minutes, but it was long enough for her 5-year-old son to accidentally shoot his 2-year-old sister with the .22-caliber rifle he got for his birthday, state officials said.

    Thank you Sen. Kelly Ayotte for making sure we will always have the right to kill.

    May 1, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  4. D Robinson

    Please explain how the current back ground checks already required by licensed gun dealers will be more burdensome b/c of the proposed legislation? The real "burden" is all of the private sales between gun nuts, criminals, and the unstable – and this is exactly what we should be getting a handle on. I think being able to sue and/or prosecute someone that transfers a weapon to someone that we as a society has decided should not have a weapon is a GREAT idea. Of course the NRA and the gun nuts do not want this – they draw a limit on the concept of a "responsible gun owner"

    May 1, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  5. Mike

    Did I.Q's drop sharply over the last few months in Newtown? The shooter didn't buy a gun. The shooter wasn't subjected to any laws about background checks, even if they had existed. He stole these weapons from his mother. Killed her; DEAD. If she had these weapons in a gun safe like she was supposed to, then he wouldn't have had access to them. Maybe they were in a safe? Maybe he grabbed a knife and forced her to open the safe? Either way, if any person is determined enough to kill his own mother to get to weapons, there is NO law that will prevent this. Period. Why don't you take your lack of logic and common sense, and move on to banning pressure cookers? It would make about as much sense.

    May 1, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  6. frmrma

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

    "I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them."
    George Mason
    Co-author of the Second Amendment
    during Virginia's Convention to Ratify the Constitution, 1788

    May 1, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  7. merlinfire

    Background checks wouldn't have prevented Adam Lanza's massacre. His mother was not a criminal.

    And unless background checks would have prevented her some from bashing her head in with a hammer, I fail to see how her being the daughter of a Newtown Victim has any relevance. She is simply using her status for political gain. Shameful, and irrelevant.

    May 1, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  8. Jay

    Criminals won't submit to background checks and that's why the law won't do any good? What BS! If criminals won't submit to background checks, then criminals won't buy guns at gun shows or over the Internet. If it's harder for criminals to buy guns, they'll have fewer guns. I believe criminals should have fewer guns. You don't?

    May 1, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  9. ART

    Terry blah blah blah is right, thats what your post sounds like to me, all about nothing but blame and bash. It seems to me you are the one who is a pathetic loser

    May 1, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  10. bella

    Kelly Ayotte – you're a moral creep. No matter what language you use to dance around the issue.

    May 1, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  11. ThinkAgain

    @Alas for the World: "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!!!!"

    How are you going to know if they are a loonie if you don't have background checks?

    *crickets*

    May 1, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  12. lottie

    keep pushing you can see from all the stupid comments made here what has to be overcome. WE can beat the NRA and still keep the 2nd amendment intact.

    May 1, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  13. ThinkAgain

    People flap their lips about how "powerful" the NRA is ... The problem is the cowardly, weak, self-centered Repubs who LESS about the victims of gun violence and will of the American people (more than 80% of whom want background checks) and MORE about keeping their jobs (and possibly getting a cush lobbying gig after they leave the Senate with full benefits for the rest of their life).

    THAT'S the problem, folks. If you don't like it, VOTE THEM OUT IN 2014.

    May 1, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  14. TedR

    For all you out there saying that 1 law won't make a difference, then why not just pass it. If it prevents one incident like this from happening or saves 1 life, it was worth it. Plain and simple. Maybe it wouldn't have made a difference in this case, but if it makes a difference somewhere, it is worth it. NEWSFLASH...the government isn't coming to take your guns away. Stop watching Faux News and listening to the NRA.

    May 1, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  15. ThinkAgain

    @Terry: " Then, we have lawmakers attempting to pass laws that will do nothing but complicate our society, split our society, and criminalize the good...."

    If gun control laws don't work, then why is it that Australia has had ZERO mass shootings since they instituted strict gun control laws in 1996?

    *crickets*

    May 1, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  16. Shannon

    When Lafferty asked Ayotte why she voted against the background check, Ayotte should have just told her that she voted according to what her constituency wanted and NOT according to what Connecticut wanted. Our system worked people, Ayotte represents the people of New Hampshire NOT Connecticut.

    May 1, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  17. ThinkAgain

    @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!"

    By your logic, we shouldn't have ANY laws, because criminals will break them.

    May 1, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  18. Peach

    Like this President doesn't want to strip ALL of our liberties, sorry Obama you are NOT getting my guns. Come take them away---

    May 1, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  19. ThinkAgain

    @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."

    "Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited."

    "Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms."

    The Second Amendment does not confer "a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose."

    – SCOTUS Justice Antonin Scalia, District of Columbia v. Heller

    May 1, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  20. Darh Jedi

    Typical emotional reaction to a common sense reaction. Sorry for your loss, but this law would have done NOTHING to prevent your mother's death. Deal with the truth of the matter instead of trying to pass a law that would make you feel better but actually do nothing to help the problem.

    May 1, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  21. ThinkAgain

    @Peach: "Like this President doesn't want to strip ALL of our liberties, sorry Obama you are NOT getting my guns. Come take them away-"

    If the President did want to do this, why hasn't he done this already? He is the Commander In Chief of the largest, best-equipped military in the WORLD. Do you really think your puny collection of guns would protect you from the firepower of the U.S. military?

    May 1, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  22. theseconddavid

    No child's life is worth the Constitutional rights of over 300 million Americans.

    May 1, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  23. ThinkAgain

    ThinkAgain edit:

    People flap their lips about how "powerful" the NRA is ... The problem is the cowardly, weak, self-centered Repubs who CARE LESS about the victims of gun violence and will of the American people (more than 80% of whom want background checks) and CARE MORE about keeping their jobs (and possibly getting a cush lobbying gig after they leave the Senate with full benefits for the rest of their life).

    THAT'S the problem, folks. If you don't like it, VOTE THEM OUT IN 2014.

    May 1, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  24. Mykethevet

    Alright so if we take "more guns" away, will that stop a PERSON from KILLING? No. Why? Because you can't stop a person that wants to kill. If they have decided and they do it, you will not know and you will not see it coming. I don't care if that person has a gun, knife, rope, etc. PEOPLE KILL. NOT GUNS.

    There will always be criminals and they will not follow the law regardless of ANY law being passed. This is what EVERYONE needs to understand. If you take guns away from people that are EDUCATED, you are saying that We the People are not SMART ENOUGH to handle a weapon as SMALL as an AR-15.

    C'mon people. Let's have a real discussion. Let's talk about real problems like the Federal Reserve monopoly or Big Banks funding drug cartels or the Fast and Furious Scandal. Hell, let's talk about kicking the TSA the he11 out for abusing their power and tax-payer money.

    May 1, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  25. edmundburkeson

    Liberal compassion is an oppression of the highest order. This woman is twice victimized. Once by a shooter who killed a member of her family and second by liberals who lead her belive that oppressing gunowners will prevent further deaths. This story is about empoweing radicals not retribution for the death of a family member. They are seeking power by manufacturing compassion, guilt, and victimization. Liberals are requiring her to remain a victim to increase their power and oppress society.

    May 1, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
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