Daughter of Newtown victim confronts senator
April 30th, 2013
07:39 PM ET
12 months 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. gj2001

    Is the burden on gun store owners that a background investigation on their potential customer may uncover information that prevents the gun store owner from making a sale?

    May 1, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  2. ghostriter

    K210 are you really comparing the Syrian military to the US military?

    May 1, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  3. Voter

    Your personal tragedy does NOT trump my Second Amendment Rights. The Congress can say we stood up to protect the Second Amendment Rights of all Americans and we will not let violence by the mentally unstaable destroy our Constitutional Rights.

    May 1, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  4. Thomas

    @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!

    Said like a true gun loving republican , just have some more kids ! Very compassionate and thoughtful !

    Nicholas Smith , you must be a very bad therapist or a great bug exterminator .

    May 1, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    I bet Obama just loved that. He and his goons are probably planning the next attack right now. To really take advantage of the situation, and push the people over the edge, so they can help him get more draconian measures passed that will help him usher in the Nazi police state.

    May 1, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  6. Just another Nickel

    Does anyone remember Fort Hood on November 5th, 2009 when 13 people were killed and 30 people were wounded? Certainly U.S. Major Hasan, a 39 year old psychiatrist had some form of background check to see...uh?...maybe if he was slightly crazy enough to kill his fellow comrades? People kill people, it has nothing to do with guns! Just another way for the government and other countries to disarm us. But let's just say for a moment that North Korea decides to kick our butts after the U.S. govenment has taken our guns due to a few of the bad apples, are you then ready to die by mass execution for another country that is set dead against you and yours? Sorry Sandy Hook...I love my kids, my grandkid, just as you had loved yours and I would never want to see a child harmed, however, focusing your efforts against the gun is not a logical approach. We need to focus on the mentally ill and complying with laws that are already on the books. I say we set a party for those that are slightly off-balance and have a score to settle, place them in a room with each armed with a gun loaded with one magazine, and let God sort them out. Sorry...very little compassion for people that take the sanctity of life with little thoughtfulness!

    May 1, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  7. ghostriter

    This would be a burden to gun store owners. Funny, you guys don't seem to mind making it harder for abortion clinics to operate. You guys didn't seem to mind making it harder for people to vote.

    Why are you only concerned about your rights?

    May 1, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  8. Serious Truth

    Sold to the highest bidder! Why not give insane people weapons? We elect liars & fools and expect them to act in our benefit? I don't understand why we think it is a "Right" to give any idiot a gun.

    May 1, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  9. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    @ Cody

    Yes, and the right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed was infringed in Tucson, Aurora, Oak Creek and Sandy Hook simply because these kids and young Americans never lived long enough to bear rifles to go hunting with their peers! O' and by the way, these victims' unalienable rights to congregate with their peers and live the American dream, a family, a house white picket fence and so on were infringed by some mentally ill gun toting lunatics.

    May 1, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  10. vic

    Another example of gutless politicians not voting the peoples choice. Gutless and cowardly!!! Look out GOP on the next election..the people are fed up!!

    May 1, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  11. T

    ........so Republcan senators are compelled MORE by the inconvienience of gun store owners,......THAN.............THE LIVES OF SCHOOL CHILDREN.........
    ............
    ........its AMAZING what MONEY CAN BUY...........even republican senators votes........

    May 1, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  12. ghostriter

    Nickel...using "Escape From New York" apocalyptic hypothetical situations as the base for your beliefs is not what we sane folks call sane.

    Complying with the laws on the books? Conservatives have effectively de-clawed the laws and the agency that is to enforce the. Then they defunded them on top of that. You guy always mention all the laws. How about the law preventing the creation of a registry? Or the one keeping the agencies from using background check information in actual criminal cases? How about the laws prevented law enforcement from tracing a gun beyond it's original point of sale? Or the law keeping law enforcement from effectively investigating shop owners?

    You guys get 1/4 of the story and are running around attempting to make sense. And fail miserably.

    May 1, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  13. Top Commentor

    The school has security doors. Some one buzzed the killer in. He did not have assult rifles with him when he entered the school because the person buzzing the door whould have seen and not let him in. This is getting very carried away.

    May 1, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  14. Kip

    Thia woman is a liar. The shooting never happened. It was a staged false flag operation on American soil. She is a party to the lies. One day this will be known and proven and she will have to live with the shame.

    May 1, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    Actually, most gun violence in the U.S. is performed by police. If we disarm all the police, maybe that would reduce gun violence.

    May 1, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  16. bs1

    It is truly sickening that the rabid anti-gun minority stoops to manipulating the emotionally distraught in an attempt to further their agenda.

    Even left leaning NPR reported that public support for the proposed "gun control" was 43% and dropping. Shortly thereafter the rabid anti-gun minority fabricated the bogus poll claiming that 90% of the countries 330,000,000 population supported the "gun control" based on a poll of barely 1,000 from carefully selected demographics.

    The fact is that non of the proposed "gun control" had any conceivable connection to preventing a deranged individual from commiting a mass murder. The only thing the "gun control" was attempting to do is further infringe on the constitutional righs of 330,000,000 people under the guise of "protecting" children by taking away their rights.

    Sorry anti-gun minority, neither I nor the 100,000,000+ gun owners will give up our hobbies, sports, self defense or constitutional rights to appease your irrational paranoia and prejudice. A sizeable percentage of the non gun owner population is also not willing to give up their constitutional rights even if they choose not to exercise them currently.

    May 1, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  17. JMBarrett

    I'm reading all these responses to the article and I'm struck dumb by how fiercely gun owners "stick to their guns" when it comes to believing their rights to own a gun, thereby giving them the right to shoot and kill gun-less, innocent people, is far more important than the lives of 20 young children. Mental illness may have played a part in this tragedy, but you can't legislate against mental illness. Sometimes you can't even see it coming and then it's too late. But if you severely restricted gun ownership, the incidences of mentally ill people getting their hands on guns, most or many of which were purchased legally according to current law, would diminish as a result of their scarcity. A + B always = C.

    May 1, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  18. syntnw

    There was a mentally unstable woman that used her car to run up on the sidewalk to intentionally do harm to the pedestrians in Reno NV. Will my car be banned? No one wants to see harm to anyone, especially children but the innocent should not be made to pay for what the mentally ill do by imposing do nothing laws and bans.

    May 1, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  19. JMBarrett

    Oh....and I hope the good people of New Hampshire give Mz. Ayotte the heave-ho in the next election.

    May 1, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  20. Matt d

    They really need legislation to close the shoot-your-mother-in-the-face-and-steal-her-guns loophole.

    May 1, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  21. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    @Seriously

    You're dead WRONG! Again, the newly proposed federally mandated background data base system would have prevented the Sandy Hook tragedy simply because it would have prevented a mentally ill woman from buying assault weapons for her mentally ill son. Likewise, had the mental state and criminal background of the Tucson, Aurora and Oak Creek shooters been is a federally mandated background system, they wouldn't have been able to purchase their weapons. And note...the Aurora shooter purchased over 6,000 round on the internet. Perhaps we should have sent him to Afghanistan or Syria!

    May 1, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  22. dewed

    Yet again, no background check would have prevented the Newtown tragedy.

    May 1, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  23. Ron L

    For those of you who think this is really about the 2nd amendment, you are being duped!! This is about MONEY the new God of America. Lets be practical for a minute. For the first four years of the Obama adminstration there was very little said about guns and yet the NRA and other so called 2nd amendment defenders consently made it sound just the opposite. Why!! Simple.. SELL MORE GUNS...MAKE MORE MONEY...Now lets be real about Sandy Hook. If the shooter unloaded 150 bullets having to reload 5 times and you change that to having to reload 15 times some of the victims probably would have gotten out alive. Thats just plain common sense. One last thing, if you seriously think about the guns that existed around the time ithe 2nd amendment was written and compare it to what exists today I really doubt that men with the intellegence necessary to write the Constitution and Bill of Rights would support guns with such devestating potential with out some type of checks and balances....background checks...mental health... and maybe limits in the number of rounds in a clip/magazine..

    May 1, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  24. doug

    i am sick of 2nd amendment rights activists who ignore the fact that their "right to bear arms" also includes a responsibility. I need a license to fly a plane, drive a car and operate on your brain. Why should ownership and possession of a deadly weapon be treated differently?

    May 1, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  25. joanne

    My 23 year old son summed it up – young men with mental problems won't seek help and lots of nice boys play those awful (my words) video games. It's guns stupid!!!

    May 1, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
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