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. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    This is my most personal take on the gun debate and one that would allow me to support the conservative point of view on their right to bear military type weapons. Since what happened in Tucson, Aurora, Oak Creek and Sandy Hook is OK with you conservatives, then it will be OK with me too, that is if you have someone take the life of one of your love ones and then praise the killer and tell the world how happy and please you're with the actions of the murderer. Hey, I'd support you 100%. How bout it? O's better yet conservatives, go shootl one of your love ones and then tell the families of the victims in Tucson, Aurora, Oak Creek and Sandy Hook how happy you're with your actions. You'd get my 100 % of my support. Please proceed!

    May 1, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  2. A True Conservative

    Please explain how this law would have prevented the terrible events in CT. Then please explain how Chicago, with some of the toughest gun laws in the nation, has such a large number of shooting deaths.

    May 1, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  3. Lawless4U

    A minor inconvenience versus lost lives?

    Thank you delusional conservatives.

    May 1, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  4. Dude

    I guess any time someone is killed we need to restrict our choices in that area.

    We already have gas cans that dont work, pill bottles that the elderly cant open, and god knows what the future has in store for us if we have to ban something everytime someone gets killed

    Because gun registration wont stop anything, and registration is not the ultimate goal

    May 1, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  5. TonDef

    Whether or not you're in favor of new gun safety laws, at least the Democrats tried to do something they thought might make a difference. The Republicans who oppose gun control say they're in favor of better mental health treatment and better enforcement of current laws, but what have they done to advance those causes? Absolutely nothing.

    May 1, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  6. ghostriter

    True, Chicago has been explained many times. 1st...it's an big metropolitan area. Crime happens. 2nd, folks just go over one city and get their guns there.

    Now, can you tell us how any of the proposals republicans have put forth would have prevented anything?

    May 1, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  7. TheTruth

    Years ago my cousin was murdered – shot in the face at point blank range. No one in the family ever blamed the gun, we always blamed the man that murdered him.

    May 1, 2013 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  8. mrzntejas

    Yelling and screaming and demanding is not "fighting," it's petulance. If you want to make the NRA (and Citizens United and PACs and every other boogieman out there) completely ineffective is to ignore those extremist morons and present your own case to the American people. Make sure groups like the NRA can't win. Politicians do NOT LEAD. They are OUR representatives. If they want to keep their jobs, they will FOLLOW us and do what We want them to do. If we can get a majority of Americans to make it crystal clear that it's time for common sense gun control, there will be common sense gun control. The reason it looks like the NRA is winning is because we're rolling over and letting them. VOTE THEM OUT!!!

    May 1, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  9. ted

    I wrote to Harry Reid regarding his no vote and asked him to explain himself, especially when the majority of democrats voted for the measure. The problem with these politicians is that they forget their constituents and love the money and bs flow from the likes of the NRA and other lobbyist organizations. The NRA has bs'd the politicians that background checks are a step towards removal of the second amendment and the NRA is totally wrong. They should be for this, not against. Just stupid people.

    May 1, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  10. Matt

    There is a reason we do not like victims serve on the jury of those accused... It is the same reason they should not be legislating when they are the victims of a crime.

    May 1, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  11. Bill

    @A True DConservative: Please explain why gun-related violence in the United States is nearly 1,000 TIMES (that's three orders-of-magnitude) greater than in other western democracies with tougher gun laws, including the U.K., Germany, Japan, France, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and others. Also explain why Texas, among the states wiht the fewest gun laws in the U.S., is one of the leading U.S. states in the rate of gun-related murders. Then explain why you don't know these facts....

    May 1, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  12. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    @ A True Conservative

    This law would have prevented the Sandy Hook shootings simply because it would have prevented a mentally ill woman from buying assault weapons for her mentally ill son. Likewise, had a federally mandated back groun system been in play, the mental health and criminal records of the Virginia Tech shooter as well as that of the Aurora and Oak Creek shooters would have prevented them from purchasing their weapons. And note...the Aurora shooter purchased more than 6,000 rounds of ammo on the internet. He should have been in Afghanistan or Syria!

    And in terms of Chicago, the crimes there are rampant simply because the current gun laws you conservatives like to say aren't being enforced enought are being enforced TOO much! See, the current gun laws allow gangs and criminals to purchase these guns at gun shows and private dealers without proper ID. And while conservatives like to argue that stronger gun laws won't work because criminals would purchase their weapons on the black market, I say you're WRONG simply because there's NO black market gun-directory out there. In other words, if you were to google black-market guns, your search would come up empty. But on the other hand however, if you were to google private gun dealers or gun show dealers, the lists are enormous and endless! Hope I answered your questions!

    May 1, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  13. Sametestsameresults

    I see alot of the right coming out asking "what would back ground checks have done to prevent CT"? Here's what I say to the question: We will never know because right now anyone can walk in to a gun show and purchase a semi auto Assault Rifle with a 60 round clip without showing ID. So what I hear by the right wing question is "lets do nothing because we have no proof that it will help" thats what I hear. You should all recieve a check from Glok, Colt, Smith and Wesson etc...and from the NRA. If you are not recieving a check you are selling our constitution out from under us with out compensation. Your ignorance now will lead to exactly what we all dont want to happen with our right to bare arms. You fools will hold off any laws to make progress until one day it is Proven over and over again and masses of innocents are gunned down then a knee jerk government will sell us all out. The time to talk reason on this issue of background checks and magazine capacity and gun design is now. One more note I notice none of you bring up "what would background checks have done to prevent Co. theatre massacre, or the gun fight with police with the Marathon Bombers......Yes lots of silence what about the nut job that shot Congress Woman Gifford...that guy wouldnt have passed muster. The time for reasoned debate is now stop putting your heads in the sand.

    May 1, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  14. robrickmon

    Quite possibly because this would not have been prevented by enhanced background checks, so the entire legislation is a knee jerk reaction to a tragedy that will in effect change nothing except the lives of those with an already inherent desire to follow the law.

    May 1, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  15. JA

    @Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer I hope your comment is a troll. Because that is one of the most disgusting things I have ever read. And if that is a troll. It's still one of the most disgusting things I have read. You have serious problems.

    May 1, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  16. Over 70

    And a five year old with his "first gun" shoots and kills his two year old sister. Ain't life and the second amendment grand!

    May 1, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  17. ghostriter

    Under federal law, people with felony convictions forfeit their right to bear arms. Yet every year, thousands of felons across the country have those rights reinstated, often with little or no review. In several states, they include people convicted of violent crimes, including first-degree murder and manslaughter, an examination by The New York Times has found.

    While previously a small number of felons were able to reclaim their gun rights, the process became commonplace in many states in the late 1980s, after Congress started allowing state laws to dictate these reinstatements — part of an overhaul of federal gun laws orchestrated by the National Rifle Association. The restoration movement has gathered force in recent years, as gun rights advocates have sought to capitalize on the 2008 Supreme Court ruling that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to bear arms.

    May 1, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  18. BCW

    Great Power comes with Great Responsibility.
    Obviously, many gun nuts out there do not want the responsibility.
    How many more young children die of gun voilence will take to change the NRA and GOP?
    How many more mass murder by guns have to happen to wake up the whole country on this real and deadly issue?
    Let's vote in 2014 and let the US citizen's voice be heard.

    May 1, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  19. NRA Member for Baclground Checks

    The Sandy Hook – Background Check Issue is a NON-ISSUE.

    The proposed law would have done NOTHING to change the Sandy Hook Shooting.

    If the ANTI-GUN folks were intellectually honest, they would asmit that.....and just be open about their plans and desires for bans and a national gun registration.....leading to the ultimates bans on handguns, etc.

    May 1, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  20. Robert

    When an agenda requires the blood of innocents to advance, you really have to wonder about that agenda. Nothing currently proposed would have stopped this tragedy or any of the recent mass shootings, including that of Gabby Giffords. All these proposals deal with the tool used and not the cause of the violence. In the case of increased addition of mental health data to the NICS database, it is a massive intrusion on Dr. / patient privilege, as well as something that will increase stigma and result in especially the military not seeking care. Why seek care for your depression, etc., when you know it will result in you not being able to legally purchase a firearm after you have served your nation, interestingly enough, with a real assault weapon.

    May 1, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  21. MesaMax

    We should not compound the Newtown tragedy by enacting laws that will do no good and only harm good citizens. Criminals do not follow laws, that is why they are criminals.

    May 1, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  22. GW 1970

    Actually, Kelly, what would have worked would have been a ban on assault weapons and clips with more than 10 rounds. Remember that the shooter at Sandy Hook reloaded at least once and then shot himself when he heard the sirens coming close. Perhaps, if he had to reload more often, a couple of children or a teacher may not have been murdered. None of the first ten amendments bar reasonable limitations. Thus, the 1st amendment does not permit someone to yell fire in a crowded theatre. Instead, the person could be criminally prosecuted or could be sued in civil court. Similarly, if I make false accusations against someone, I can properly be sued for slander or libel. There is a reasonable center between adhering to the 2nd amendment and gun safety. The NRA and the gun nuts just won't admit it.l

    May 1, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  23. ghostriter

    Once the NRA had saved the ATF, it focused on how to neuter it. Four years after bargaining for the preservation of the ATF, the NRA helped Congress formally handcuff the agency, in the form of the 1986 Firearms Owners Protection Act. The law, which included a handful of token regulations (such as a ban on machine guns), made it all but impossible for the government to prosecute corrupt gun dealers. It prohibited the bureau from compiling a national database of retail firearm sales, reduced the penalty for dealers who falsified sales records from a felony to a misdemeanor, and raised the threshold for prosecution for unlicensed dealing.

    Perhaps most glaringly, the ATF was explicitly prohibited from conducting more than one inspection of a single dealer in a given year, meaning that once an agent had visited a shop, that dealer was free to flout the law.

    May 1, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  24. bs1

    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?"

    There is no constitutional ammendment giving you the right to fly a plane, drive a car, or be a surgeon. There is a constitutional ammendment stating in the most clear and broad terms that the people have a right to keep and bear arms which shal not be infringed, and further it frames it in the context of a well "regulated" (equipped or capable in the language of the day) militia, not in the context of duck hunting.

    May 1, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  25. Duh

    Conservatives did indeed put forth very practical ideas of protecting the kids- with armed guards, and/or teachers. THE only thing that would have stopped this. For some reason I still cannot figure out, gun control advocates poo-pooed this idea. We protect MONEY with armed guards; our children are FAR more valuable.

    May 1, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
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