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. RationalOne

    The irony is she's calling to task of the senator for not voting for legislation that wouldn't have saved her parent. "How dare you do nothing about what would have done nothing anyway."

    You can jump up and down about gun control being common sense all day long, but in the end you're still avoiding the root cause of it all... what causes these acts of violence in the first place. To think it is a gun problem is a false assumption, there are millions of guns out there that do no harm, statistics prove it. But, I guess it's easier to go after guns, isn't it, when going after the real problem will force us to confront some truths we don't want to face.

    May 1, 2013 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  2. Mike

    ...furthermore; how many DA's, LT. Governors, Governors, Vice Presidents, President's of the US rely on background checks for their day to day protection? Their background checks consist of mortorcades, bullet proof glass, hard cars, automatic weapons, video surveillance, motion sensors, the CIA/FBI/NSA and shooting people DEAD if they approach these person's in a questionable manner. If it were up to the Liberals; the rest of us would only be armed with "harsh language". The Benghazi survivors are being threatened by the Obama administration if they tell Congress the truth about how their government abandoned them during their time of need of protection! The last Medal of Honor recipient told a story how the US Government made him and his soldiers man an outpost that was surrounded by mountains and "the battle ensued all day" regardless of their being in constant contact with higher headquarters. Ever ask yourself why they didn't send reinforcements if they had "all day"? Anyone still want to arm themselves with only the use of "harsh language"? Anyone else want to give our Government more power over us when they have proven to not even protect their own soldiers in the most dire of circumstances? Not me.

    May 1, 2013 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  3. CB


    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.

    75% of New Hampshire residents favored increased background checks. Ayotte's approval rating has dropped 15 points since the "vote". She is not representing what the people of Hew Hampshire want

    May 1, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  4. ThinkAgain

    @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 !"

    He didn't steal the guns; he got them from his irresponsible mother who taught her mentally-disturbed son how to shoot and left loaded weapons available around the house. She paid for her mistake; it's a tragedy that so many others did, too.

    May 1, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  5. ThinkAgain

    @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."

    You guys are so funny! Like your puny stash of weapons would be ANY match against the firepower of the U.S. military!

    I bet you all also thump your chests and yammer on about how much you support that same military – the one that you live in constant fear of taking your guns ... even though they haven't made so much as a move towards doing so ... and never will ...

    How do you folks live without your heads exploding from your idiotic thoughts?

    May 1, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  6. Howard

    Lets see... First there is already a background check system in place... Second why did the democratic majority vote down the amendment on mental health and stronger penalties for those who lie on their background checks, and to fund the ability to prsecute those who do. I'll tell you why... It's because it would interfere with their actual agenda which is destroy the second amendment and to disarm the public. Criminals do not obatain firearms legally and that is a fact! As a law-abiding gun owner and member of the NRA, I refuse to be put in the same category as these crazies.

    May 1, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  7. Second Right

    @ Blah, Blah,....More gun control works fabulously...ask the people of Chicago about it this morning. 19 shot and 3 dead in the last 24 hours there. You're not seeing CNN report on that but the city's ABC affiliate is. Disarm people so they can't defend themselves. Works like a charm.

    May 1, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  8. LariSpitler

    Sandy Hook was an unthinkable terrible tragedy. Had this law that was defeated been in effect before the shooting it would not have prevented it. The killer stole guns from his mother that were obtained legally. That's reality no matter what the victims or media think. This proposed law would not have prevented the tragedy. Period.

    May 1, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  9. JGo2

    Elections have consequences; the pasting the Dems received in the last House of Reps election led to this.

    I remember during the summer after Obamacare passed and opposition Tea Party protestors dogged Democrats that voted for it, the Democrats (especially Pelosi) were aghast and said that protest against the votes of Congresspersons was unpatriotic. Of course that is only when you criticize Democrats.

    May 1, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  10. OldSchool

    The chemically imbalanced gun nuts are probably afraid of universal background checks because they would fail them. They go on delusional rants about the 'gubmint takin' their guns' as though it is the government that we have to fear. I think we have far more to fear from these loons than any paranoid fantasy of theirs about the government...

    May 1, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  11. A

    Wait. That kid in Kentucky that just shot his 2 year old sister to death. He got his gun for his BIRTHDAY. Oh, and I forgot to mention, he was FIVE! People need some serious mental/background checks in this country. Hope this "gift" is worth a dead daughter.

    May 1, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  12. BigTBone

    Anyone want to venture a guess on how many paid shills the gun lobby employs to flood sites?

    Every argument is the same, every talking point reads like it's pulled from a checklist.

    May 1, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  13. Shelia

    The people of Australia whose country is very simlilar to ours live just fine without automatic weapons of mass destruction.

    May 1, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  14. yogi

    It is amazing that so many pro gun comments here are talking about the deaths caused by gun violence as if it is a side effect, something casual. They say, oh well that just happens, it is about my rights!, my freedom! and the heck with all those who die. This country is infested with guns, and there is a very unhealthy fascination with guns, and until that stops there will be more massacres and continuing lame excuses from gun owners.

    May 1, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  15. dd

    Look at Chicago! The only people with guns are the bad guys who are carrying illegally and who will be out on the street within hours of being picked up by a cop. Democrat judges like drug gang members and put them on the street because the Democrat Politicians – Obama, Daley, Emanuel, Madigan, Durbin – say so.

    May 1, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  16. pliny

    This is just the beginning of the end for the NRA.

    Because more, and worse massacres will occur.

    And the 91% of Americans that supported expanded background checks, will grow.

    And 'expanded background checks' will also grow into more and more demands for common sense legislation.

    And the NRA, the bastion of anti-common-sense, will become more and more assailed by the public.

    And the cowardly senators/congressmen who vote in fear of the NRA will be voted out of office faster and faster.

    And eventually, the NRA will loose it's voice.

    And the gun-nuts will have to find another spokesman who will feed them the paranoid fantasies of 'my cold dead hands'.

    It's not about the '2nd amendment'. It is about common sense. It is about the fact that MOST of us do not want to live in the NRA-version of America, where we HAVE to own guns to protect ourselves from whatever fairy-tales that the NRA makes up.

    May 1, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  17. duane - st.pete FL

    sandy hook was bad, but this bill would have prevented that.....so stop with the guilt stuff....

    May 1, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  18. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer


    You're dead WRONG! A federally mandated background data base system would have saved her mother's life simply because it would have prevented a mentally ill woman from buying guns for her mentally ill son. Plain and simple!

    May 1, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  19. knob

    Typical American response when faced with the prospect of change: do nothing. Do nothing on gun control, do nothing on debt and deficits, do nothing on the environment, do nothing...

    May 1, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  20. kathy

    Good for her...make these NRA and gun manufacturing lobbyists and puppets face the people they are in Congress to 'represent' and hear how they feel about your decisions on THEIR behalf. Take it to the voting booth in the next election and let them know how you feel.

    May 1, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  21. J Russ

    Conn already passed their gun control laws.........why do they want to impose their will on the rest of the country?

    May 1, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  22. Thomas

    Sen. Kelly Ayotte / Sen Rand Paul 2016

    Or maybe , Kelly Ayotte /Ted Cruz
    Or Kelly Ayotte / Darrel Issa
    Or Kelly Ayotte / Marco Rubio.
    Or even better Kelly Ayotte / Louie Gohmert

    And she thought she was going to be Mitt Romney's VP choice . The last angry woman !

    May 1, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  23. truthbetold

    tell me again how background checks would have saved your mother?

    May 1, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  24. duane - st.pete FL

    thinkagain – not afraid of the military at all....95% of those in the military are gun owners and would NEVER strike US population. Lots of prior military as well....and most are gun owners so if the goverment ever ordered them on the US population, it would be the goverment that is taken out.....promise. 🙂

    May 1, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  25. Nicholas Smith

    I am sick to death of these whining parents going on and on endlessly blaming everybody and everything for the tragedy. We sympathize, and that's it. They need to get on with their lives have more kids, and leave the rest of us alone!

    May 1, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
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