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. ghostriter

    During the George W. Bush administration, The gun lobby delivered another big blow. In 2003, Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) inserted a series of amendments into a Department of Justice appropriations bill that prohibited the ATF from sharing information on weapons traces to the general public—effectively restricting researchers from detecting trends and potential loopholes in current policy. (A 1996 NRA-backed budget likewise prohibited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from studying the health effects of gun ownership.)

    The same year, Congress, backed by the NRA, split the ATF off from the Department of Treasury and stipulated that its director be confirmed by the Senate, effectively giving the gun lobby veto power over who would run the agency. Since then, the ATF has simply gone leaderless. No nominee has been confirmed by the Senate after that policy went into effect—not even President Bush's pick. Without job security, acting ATF directors have had none of the political capital needed to reform the agency or run it at full throttle.

    May 1, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  2. shuffler

    It's unfortunate that so many anti gun folks just find it so hard to understand something so simple. To say anyone celebrates killings anywhere is just... well ignorant. Just because someone wishes to protect himself/herself or their family does in no way mean that that person is happy when some criminal or mental midget kills someone. To say so makes you suspect of a mental issue.... which means you should not be able top protect yourself.

    May 1, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  3. Tash

    As everyone for the gun control has pointed out, we have to show ID and are tracked for buying sudafed, there are background checks for renting an home, and those things don't kill others. But there are no background checks to buy a weapon that can kill many people. This is the country that we live in and the government we elected to represent us. We allow lobbys to buy off our government, and so the NRA has. Maybe we should create our own interest group and raise money to buy off the government too, this time to pass laws to save people's lives!

    May 1, 2013 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  4. ci

    Too politicians have used this daughter's grief and pushed her into becoming a political pawn. As heartless as it is, I would have to say to these families – I'm not going to diminish my rights for a law that would not have prevented this tragedy. Sorry for your loss, but I'm not going to cave.

    May 1, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  5. Marcus Takatoa

    The proposed legistlation would have done NOTHING to prevent similar mass shootings in the future. It was just a ploy by the Democrats to show how much they "care".

    May 1, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  6. scotty

    It might be your right to keep and bear arms, but it is not your right to have a government that allows businesses to supply theyou with those arms. If you want a machine gun john wayne, then make it yourself, register it with your state, andn go shoot up a school if you feel so inclined. Crazy people will always do crazy things, but if you make it harder for crazy people to get their crazy hands on crazy things to do even crazier things, then you sane gun nuts will have even more guns to get your crazy hands on. And for those of you that are so paranoid about our government, if you dont trust it, just do us all a favor and move away. and take your reality tv with you. you all must look so sad sitting in your trailer, watching teen mom 2, cleaning your rifle, eating a deep fried snicker, and fantasizing about your cousin. Nowhere in any of the proposed legislation did it even mention taking your little guns away. Nor did it mention having to give away your favorite pistol that your uncle Festus gave you for your 5th birthday. Yet, by turning the channel on your 60" flatscreen from teen mom to Hannity, all the things you learned before you dropped out of middle school vanished. Things like our Bill of Rights, our Constitution, and the wrongful ways of violence,........all gone. And finally, to all you folks who undoubtably will respond to my post, spouting the same drivel that dribbles out of the corner of Hannity's mouth, i just hope you never have to experience what the parents in Newtown just did. but if you do, i feel sorry for the person who did it, because with all your firepower, and the total disregard you will show to our constitution when you take matters into your own hands, denying the culprit a right to a speedy trial and all that nonsense. Maybe then they will give you the much too late mental evaluation you are entitled too, maybe they will just label YOU crazy, and send you home with some condolences and an American flag. Or maybe with a lifelong scrip for some weed to soothe your temper. Later.

    May 1, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  7. ja

    more citizens need to call out the slime of the senate, vote for the people to hell with the store owner, when we vote midterm do roll call

    May 1, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  8. ChicagoViking

    I love it when people rely on straw man arguments - the background check would not have prevented Newtown - to justify bad, status quo positions.

    No, background checks at gun shows and for internet sales likely would not have prevented Newton. But, they would close loopholes and make it harder for criminals and the mentally ill to get guns. And that would help prevent injuries and deaths elsewhere.

    And by the way, the background check bill would have done nothing to take away 2nd Amendment rights, nothing. Law abiding citizens would feel nothing except for being a little safer.

    May 1, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  9. Adam

    I really would like to know why there is an "all or nothing" mentality when it comes to gun control measures. I hear the reason for inaction is that it will "inconvience" some people and that because it won't prevent all gun violence we should do nothing. I guess we devalue human life to this slight inconvinience. No, this bill would not have prevented all gun deaths but it could have saved some. With this all or nothing mentality gun lovers seem to have I guess we should repeal seatbelt laws because wearing a seatbelt does not prevent all automobile fatalities, or how about we stop requirng lead to be removed out of gasloine because it does not prevent all air pollution, or stop requiring buildings to have sprinkler systems because they won't prevent all fires.

    May 1, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  10. pjusa

    Should we have background checks every time someone wants to buy a pressure cooker from now on?

    May 1, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  11. Dave Sweeney

    I am gun owner and collector and I believe we need better gun control. So far none of the suggested laws would address any of the recent mass violence. We need to come together as a country and develop a solution which protects our citizens and does not infringe our second amendment rights.

    May 1, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  12. Stewart Bonner

    So a store owner's inconvenience trumps a human life. So whose interests does this senator represent?

    May 1, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  13. Peoples State of Illinois

    I'm all for background checks, until you add the gun registration database the government wants to keep. A little detail like that is left out of the "polls" and the lefty rants.

    May 1, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  14. Person of Interest

    You know why there can't be common sense gun regulations? Two reasons both involving fear but only one is good or legitimate: 1) People are afraid of criminals. 2) People are afraid the government will take them all away.

    May 1, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  15. Peoples State of Illinois

    "And finally, to all you folks who undoubtably will respond to my post, spouting the same drivel that dribbles out of the corner of Hannity's mouth, i just hope you never have to experience what the parents in Newtown just did. but if you do, i feel sorry for the person who did it, because with all your firepower, and the total disregard you will show to our constitution when you take matters into your own hands, denying the culprit a right to a speedy trial and all that nonsense. "
    Occasionally Hannity is correct.

    May 1, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  16. ghostriter

    Duh....they had armed guards at Colombine. You know, the school that started this whole mess? Didn't help much there. Heck, wasn't there a shooting on an army base? How many armed guards there?

    Of course, you could pony up the $2 billion a year it would take. But that doesn't include colleges. When can we expect your check?

    May 1, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  17. feckless

    44% of the Republican party believes they need unlimited access to firearms because they will have a violent revolution against the government in "the next few years".

    Almost half of the members of a one of our political parties are deluded apocalyptic paranoids.

    This is terrorism.

    May 1, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  18. Mommy

    @Duh...I couldnt agree more, I own about 20 guns..some old 22's an AR-15 and 6 handguns, I like to shoot but it they are also there bc I have two toddlers that I will protect with everything I have, we live in a small town, 80% carry guns, the schools know it and im guessing some teachers even do, if all these Polititians and the President can protect their children w/ armed gaurds and GUNS why can't we? Are his children more important than mine? NOOO all children are important no matter who the parents they should all be protected from tragedy.

    May 1, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  19. Mike

    Ayotte is a coward.

    May 1, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  20. Name

    @Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer...you have to be the most delusional and flat out LAIR on CNN!!!! Background check would NOT have prevented ANY of the shooting you referenced, you are a LIAR and you know it!!!! Go back to Mommy and Daddy's basement and be quite!!!! Every day I read your lies and it is getting old, not once have you provided proof of your claims, because you CAN’T, it does not exist!!!! FACT is that background checks would not have prevented these tragedy and no matter how many times you say it would have the FACTS will not change!!!!! Stop thinking with emotions and start using your brain.

    May 1, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  21. Clayton

    Love how the people who oppose sensible background checks always go back to mental health and ensuring that the "laws on the books" are enforced. Let's take a look at how helpful the NRA has been in ensuring that current laws are enforced:
    – 2010 National Defense Authorization Act Amendment forbidding military officials from collecting information about service members privately owned firearms. Measure limited military doctor's ability to ask questions to mentally unstable or suicidal soldiers. Was revoked in 2012.
    – 2011 Florida Firearm Owners' Privacy Act prohibited doctors from talking to their patients about firearms.
    – Affordable Care Act Provision that prohibits federal wellness and prevention programs from collecting or disclosing information related to a patient's possession of a firearm.

    And the list goes on.

    May 1, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  22. Steve m

    Now vote her out of office next election with all the other do nothing's in Dc

    May 1, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  23. Me

    @feckless.....provide your source!!! Can't can you??? I love all the lies that lefties will come up with just to support their claims!

    May 1, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  24. Boo

    I'd like to personally thank all of the NRA gun loving zombies who oppose background checks. Thanks for enabling terrorists in this country like the Boston bombers WHO SHOT AND KILLED the MIT cop. Maybe if we had mandatory background checks those two men would not have been able to purchase a gun and that MIT cop would still be alive. I don't know how you gun lovers sleep at night.

    May 1, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  25. jboh

    Why do the TEA/GOP keep talking the lie about taking away guns? This bill would not restrict gun ownership for anyone who is not legally restricted from purchasing one. Speak the truth instead of NRA gun makers' shill La Pierre, lies. The way you swallow everything a pill-popping loud mouth, cluster FOX, or Drudge shows how foolish you are. All of you are being played by plutocratic, treasonous, royalists. You are betraying the Founding Fathers dream.

    May 1, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
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