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. yogi

    @ Dan Jones
    "Erica Lafferty either isn't very intelligent or she is dishonest. She makes her emotional and manipulative confrontation knowing that she is using her mothers death in an unfair way."
    Wow, you are part of the problem, and you should be ashamed of your callous comment, as all should be who will never discuss the problem with intelligence, but always use diverting tactics, that is UNFAIR!

    May 1, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  2. Beth

    And then we hear of a 5 year old who accidently shot and killed his 2 year old sister with the new rifle he got for his birthday. What the hell is the matter with you people in the USA?? A 5 year old can't drive a car, have a drink, but hey, let's give them their own firearms. Many of us looking in, watching those who screech about the amendment of right to bear arms – bastardizing the intent of that, said by some of your own scholars – are stunned by the unintelligent frenzy over guns. America is a shadow of what it once was, and you guys just can't see it.

    May 1, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  3. Nicholas Smith

    Folks, we are sick of these whining parents going on endlessly, blaming everybody and everything for the tragedy. We sympathize, and that's all. They need to get on with their lives, have more kids, and leave the rest of us alone. We're not going to pervert the Constitution for any or all of them!

    May 1, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  4. Wayne

    One of the main reasons the bill failed in this attempt is because of all the garbage that gets attached to the bill in an effort to win votes. If they would let these bill stand on their own merit they would have a better chance of being passed. We (gun owners) were not opposed to better background checks and denial of people being deamed to be too risky to possess weapons, we just did not agree with all the riders that found their way onto the bill. It is that simple.

    May 1, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  5. K210

    @Thinkagain "Like your puny stash of weapons would be ANY match against the firepower of the U.S. military!

    Please don't tell that to Syria, they seem to be doing pretty good at standing against their countries military. The reality is that for the most part most military members are hardcore defenders of the constitution and take seriously the oath they took. I don't believe our military would take arms against the populace defending the constitution. What's more a large majority of gun owners are veterans; they too still take their oath seriously. I would bet you are just a mousy liberal who has never done anything for your country but ride the backs of those who served, I could be wrong but it's my guess. The simple but painful for you to admit fact about this defeated law is it in itself would have done nothing to stop any of the massacres since Columbine. All of the guns used were either stolen, yes if it's not yours and you take it it's called steeling, or the individual went through background checks. The real question we must ask which hasn’t been is why do these events happen. It’s not the guns they have always been available even more so in the recent past. Do you know that you used to be able to purchase a military style semi-automatic weapon from a Sears catalog with no background check what so ever? Why now do we see unstable people performing mass shootings? What in our society has changed that would allow this? The removal of God from our society? Teaching our children they are nothing more than an animal, game and movies which cheapen life and desensitize society? I don’t know but it’s not the guns.

    May 1, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  6. Guns ARE the Problem

    For those of you who think guns aren't the problem, consider this... the United Kingdom has 62.6 million residents. They have a gun ban and experience less than 100 gun related deaths a year. Canada which has 34.4 million residents and much stricter gun laws that the US has less than 200 gun related deaths a year.

    The US on the other hand, has 313 Million people and over 12,000 gun related deaths a year. When you break it down, the US has 5 times the population of Great Britain but 206 TIMES THE GUN RELATED DEATHS!!!

    The US has 9 times the population of Canada but 68 TIMES the gun related deaths. The connection is clear.

    The NRA so often says that the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. But... if neither of them had a gun...?

    May 1, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  7. Katie

    duane – st. pete The Posse Comitatus Act (1878), prohibits the Federal government in using federal military personnel to enforce the State laws. It's design was the same as the 2nd, to keep the US population free from tyranny of the Government, so any President wo ATTEMPTED to use the military against the people could and would be immediately impeached and convicted. " When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty." – Thomas Jefferson Molon Labe

    May 1, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  8. Joey

    @Thinkagain and others who MISREAD the Second Amendment:

    The Supreme Court has maintained that the usage of the word "people" in the amendment does NOT refer to a "well regulated militia". These are statements of TWO rights in a single amendment, separated by a comma:

    The right to a militia
    The right to keep and bear arms

    Education only works if you are willing to read.

    May 1, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  9. Michael

    If the NRA folks really want to "go to the core of the problem....mental health concerns-" why do the Senators they have in their pockets always vote AGAINST funds that would help in that regard? The fact is, no one wants to "take your guns". People want to do anything possible to prevent events like Sand Hook from happening again. The NRA doesn't care about mental health- they care about their power and their money. And whipping the fires under gun "nuts" is what they do best. Background checks are rational......the rhetoric from the right is irrational. Period.

    May 1, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  10. lewwho

    I think there should be a background check for stupidity, parents and children. Just today, a 5 year old KY boy old shot his 2 year old sister with a .22 caliber rifle he received for his birthday. There should be very stiff penalties for the parents that allow this nonsense to continue to happen. Oh and by the way, this had nothing to do with the mentally ill nonsense. UNTIL THIS PROBLEM GETS UNDER CONTROL GUNS SHOULD DIFFICULT TO GET PERIOD.

    May 1, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  11. Katie

    Erica Lafferty, expanded background checks would not have saved your mother, as Adam was ILLEGALLY armed either way. However, had your mother confronted Adam with a LEGAL .45 rather than empty handed, Adam's mother would be the only grieving Newtown resident, and she should have been prosecuted for letting those guns fall into the hands of her son, had she lived. Also, just a reminder......Congress doesn't work for you or the President. They work fr we the people, the constituents of each Rep. Go home and grieve. I know you are all being manipulated, which is unconscienable, but at this point you are creating ill will, as much as we all feel for you. Stop being patsies in this fight.

    May 1, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  12. p


    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.


    The only thing that can stop a 5 year old with a gun is a two year old with a gun?
    Giving a 5 year old a gun is child abuse.

    May 1, 2013 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  13. Nicholas Smith

    We should start charging those Newtown gun control advocates for the air time. We're sick of hearing them whine and blame the guns and the rest of us for their pain. They need to shut up. We are not going to pervert the Constitution for them.

    May 1, 2013 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  14. tony

    Guns unique capabilities

    The only widely available machine that can kill several victims who are running away from you is a gun.

    The only widely available machine that can kill one or more victims seeking safety by locking them selves in their car is a gun.

    The only widely available machine that can kill one or more victims who merely happen to be driving nearby is a gun.

    The only widely available machine that can kill one or more victims from a passing nearby car is a gun.

    The machine that cannot protect a victim from being surprised and shot at, is a gun.

    As an ex-military sniper, I know I could kill ANY unarmored enemy, or small group, using even a simple rifle, from up to half a mile away. And it wouldn’t matter how many, or what types of guns they were carrying. I’d get a whole bunch them before they would have a chance to use their own guns or figure out where I was.

    Obviously, all Americans really, really, really need to all have guns so that they can utilize these important characteristics.

    May 1, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  15. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Second Right wrote: more gun control works fabulously...ask the people of Chicago about it this morning 19 shot and 3 dead in the last 24 hours.

    Well, first and foremost, what happened in Chicago is tragic and sad. And if iI had my way, the parents responsible for raising these criminals who are behing these violent act would all be sent to GITMO along with their siblings.

    However, to address your comment about gun control, I believe these shootings that occured in Chicago are the result of the current gun laws that conservatives like to say aren't being enforced enough and should be enforced more. See, the current gun laws allow these thugs to buy guns from prvate dealers and gun shows where no background checks or screenings are required. Furthermore, while some gangs members and criminals are able to purchase guns on the black market, let's face it, its alot harder to purchase a gun on the black market than it is to purchase a gun at a private dealer or gun show simply because there's no black market-gun directory out there. For esample, if you wanted to buy a gun on the black market, could you google black market guns and find a gun for sale? I don't think so because there's NO black market gun directory out there. On the other hand, if you wanted to buy a gun from a private dealer or gun show, you google private gun sales or gun show sales and suddenly, a long list of dealers pop up. Hey, its all in the details!

    May 1, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  16. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    It is not that they will have to say nothing. They will have to say "I did nothing"!

    May 1, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  17. Cody

    "A well regulated militia, being neccessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed"

    Thats the real 2nd ammendment. You anti-gun sheep seem to leave out the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. You only have the militia part. Quit distorting this.

    You also like to thrash the NRA quite a bit. Let me tell you my view of them. I am a member. Im am also under 18. I have learned a lot of gun safety from them. I like that they are fighting to help me and millions of others keep their rights to get firearms. I like that they send me a hunting magazine each month so i can better understand and enjoy the sport. I like how they call people in person to ask for support.

    I love guns period. Im not in fear of a government seige of the citizens. I like a nice gun just like one may like a nice car, or a nice set of golf clubs. I enjoy bring different models out to the range to enjoy shooting them at targets to see how accurate i can get. Every gun is a little different and poses a good challenge. Its a hobby and a sport. So quit unfairly stereotyping me as a homicidal maniac. Im just a man with a passion for guns.

    Rifles are being targeted.
    In 2011,
    12664 total murders
    8583 gun total gun murders
    6220 handgun murders
    323 rifle murders
    356 shotgun murders
    1684 unkown firearm murders
    1694 knife/cutting instrument murders
    1659 other weapons murders
    728 hands/fists,feet,ect Murders

    Rifles hardly catch up to any other murder weapon. So are rifles really the problem?

    May 1, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  18. tony

    News says 5yr old shoost 2 yr old sister today. – Guns don't kill people, so it's probably just a made up story.

    May 1, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  19. M. Edward Triefler

    Sadly, in defending the second Amendment, respondents who oppose “Back Ground Check,” and in fact all reasonable measures to reduce the senseless killing of all the victims of gun violence, instead they resort to the worn out standard clichés; as all those who are in favor of reform as, "pathetic loser," " commie," and "Laws only hurt the people that obey them!" I'm sorry but meaningless comments only cloud the issues, rather than clear them up. It's true that a Background Check would not have done any good in the Sandy Hook tragedy, the mother was clearly at fault for not recognizing the warning signs that her son most certainly would have been displaying prior to the senseless act. For her failure to act, which would have taken incredible courage, she not only lost her own life but that of her son’s and the grieving parents and relatives of the children and their teachers. However, I’m a licensed gun owner so I obviously believe in the right to protect myself and my family if need be. Nonetheless, we need to stop making this a political issue and start addressing the real problems. The issue of the “Gun Show” loophole has to be addressed, we must include mental health as a reason to deny people with problems from obtaining guns, and we must eliminate all military style weapons and magazines that contain more than ten rounds. There must be a reasonable waiting time not a couple of days but several weeks in order to thoroughly investigate a prospective gun owner’s ability to obtain a weapon. For anyone willing to pay hundreds of dollars to purchase a weapon, they should also be willing to pay for a proper background check. It’s time to use our vote to insist that the 80% to 90% of the American People are heard. The Congressional Representatives work for us not the gun industry or the NRA.

    May 1, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  20. p dinot

    boo hoo, mind your own bussiness, you dont live in NH..........maybe the daughter should have a "gun free home" sign in her front window.... you want to do something aboutit, move to NH, otherwise stop crying about nothing that would have saved you mother.

    May 1, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  21. MTATL67

    What a Bachmann type answer. You can tell that she is a junior Senator. Republicans are and should be scared because like Ms. Lafferty said 'lawmakers will be held accountable'

    May 1, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  22. tony

    "A well regulated militia, being neccessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed"

    Armed 5 year olds are necessary to have a well regulated militia???

    May 1, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  23. Shane

    Reading some of your posts it looks like the media has done just what they set out to do. 91% what? Fools if you believe that. Sandy Hook, Go home!!! Laws don't have to be the same all of the country. Your politics are divided why not the country all you cry baby losers that lost the vote can move to Chicago. Oh way you don't want to do that you might get shot.

    May 1, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  24. ghostriter

    Conservatives, if you believe that any of those proposals would not have prevented Sandy Hook (not that that is the point), please tell us which of your ideals would have? More security guards? Didn't help in Columbine. How about forcing states to accept other states gun laws? Probably not. Fact is that nothing proposed by republicans would have done much but advance gun owner's agenda.

    Sorry guys, but your side has once again came up short. Doing nothing but complaining about Obama and offering up even worse legislation is not providing solutions.

    Oh, and since you guys are big on not passing laws that would prevent crimes, why were you guys so adamant about passing voter ID laws? They would not have stopped any of the so called fraud that went on in the last election nor would it stop any crimes at all. I mean, criminals don't follow laws...right? They are very few instances of voter fraud, so why punish law abiding citizens? Lastly, why since fake ID's are a dime a dozen, your new ID laws would be rendered ineffective by a college kid with a Mac.

    As usual, you guys are only concerned about rights when your rights are threatened and only care about the Constitution when it suits your purposes.

    May 1, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  25. Seriously

    Not one person can cite a single law that would have prevented Sandy Hook. MURDER is illegal and wasn't a deterent despite the consequences so the laws are worthless. NO ONE can come up with HOW they would remove existing weapons from this country to go "gun free". The PRESIDENT admitted using drugs....despite federal laws prohibiting it, so why would a criminal be expected to adhere to the laws? Won't happen. Cars, falls, poison, and other accidents take far more lives of children than guns. When you eliminate gang violence, suicide, drugs, and then acknowledge that 70% of gun related violence are against/by blacks, the vast majority of those complaining have a greater chance of being struck by lightening. In FACT you do have a greater chance of being struck by lightening than being a victim of mass murder. Gun owners are against the laws because the idiots who think LAWS are the solution will want even more laws when any they demanded failed. Gun owners welcome solutions, but LAWS are not solutions. They are an attempt to legislate morality and that has never worked.

    May 1, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
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