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. jrichards327

    There are no easy solutions, but one thing that might help is the prosecution of the gun owner regardless of who pulls the trigger. If you have a gun, but it is accessible to others, then you should be as liable as the shooter. Gun safes should be a necessary purchase for anyone buying a gun. If you are responsible enough to buy and use the gun, then you should be responsible enough to keep it locked up and away from any potential shooter. Maybe people would think twice about a gun purchase if they are held legally responsible.

    May 1, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  2. leavemygunsalone

    Coulda swore that guy shot up newtown with someone elses gun he took without permission. So what would a background check have accomplished? (not that they are unneeded, just wont stop this kinda thing) Do you people really think gangbangers and drug dealer are all registered F O.I. D. card owners, and that they buy there guns legally? Im not against some better restrictions to ensure nutjobs dont buy guns. But the majority of these crazy's dont have legal guns anyway. So takeing our guns away from law abiding citizens so that only the criminals have guns, is your soloution? Do you really think any of these new laws will stop the gun violence? You people are truly naive.

    May 1, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  3. Get over it!!

    Hey liberals, get over it you LOST, sound familiar!!! LOL

    May 1, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  4. reasonablebe

    a burden on the gun stores??? yah, well, health regulations are a burden on restaurants and safety codes are a burden on builders and building owners, and osha regs are burdens on businesses, and airport security is a burden on everybody .... this is her excuse? lame. cowardice.

    and the suggestion that better address of mental health will solve the problem and is a better way to go? right. if you can't even get up the strength to face the gun lobby, you think you can really force someone to take a mental health test and then go to treatment and require proof from anyone that they have no mental health issues???? you think that is easier??? talk about invading privacy. hello, anybody home?

    May 1, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  5. Sametestsameresults

    @Duh – "We protect our money with armed gards" true enough. Money cannot learn hate, Money cannot learn fear, Money cannot learn that school is an armed prison posing as a place of learning, Money cannot learn love, Money cannot learn tolerance, Money cannot learn anything. A very bad anology because our children are soo much more than money even the comparison is sad. When Wallstreet and the banks were bailed out MONEY was the reason and MONEY was the cause of the GREED which humans acted on. Guns are the reason people die from guns, no guns dont pull the trigger I agree a peson does but the gun is the vehical which makes jealousy, insanity, hate, fear deadly in some cases. Money makes Greed, jealousy, insanity deadly in some cases. We know people are not perfect we cannot change that what we can change is the vehicle that people can use to project there short commings. I own 5 weapons for recreation I do not feel threatened by background checks, magazine capacity or specific weapon type bans. The time for reason is NOW.

    May 1, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  6. reasonablebe

    why would this comment: a burden on the gun stores??? yah, well, health regulations are a burden on restaurants and safety codes are a burden on builders and building owners, and osha regs are burdens on businesses, and airport security is a burden on everybody .... this is her excuse? lame. cowardice.

    and the suggestion that better address of mental health will solve the problem and is a better way to go? right. if you can't even get up the strength to face the gun lobby, you think you can really force someone to take a mental health test and then go to treatment and require proof from anyone that they have no mental health issues???? you think that is easier??? talk about invading privacy. hello, anybody home?

    need any review? it's opinion and questioning what was said.

    May 1, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  7. ghostriter

    I'm waiting for republicans to reverse the last 30 years of laws they gave us limiting the ATF so that we can begin to actually "use the laws already passed" on gun control.

    Republicans and the NRA have systematically made it extremely difficult for the laws to be enforced. What little laws that were passed.

    May 1, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  8. irunner

    Hey "Get over it"! You have 4 more years of Obama. YOU Lost!

    May 1, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  9. pjusa

    To all you flaming libs that want to guarantee that nobody ever gets hurt, ever feels pain, ever has a medical problem that doesn't get fixed, ever feels sad or depressed, ever gets bullied, is always successful, ever has an accident, ever get's in a fight (the list goes on and on and on), GROW THE EF UP! Life happens and you really have no control over it no matter how many laws, rules, motions, decrees or ordinances you pass to restrict peoples activities. Evil people exist and do bad things. Stupid people exist and do stupid things. People still succumb to addictions. People still die at the hands of drunk drivers. People still don't wear their seat belts. People still smoke. People still use illegal drugs. There comes a point where passing more restrictive legislation only restricts the law abiding and does not have any effect on the very minute percentage of the population who are violators. It becomes a very expensive, time consuming and fruitless "feel good" exercise that, in the end, does little or nothing to solve the problem.

    May 1, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  10. Mike

    Jrichards. You hit the nail on the head. When I spent 5 years in Germany as an DOD civilian, gun safes were required and had to be very very strong. Most times guns were left at the shooting range. And for those who might say, Hitler took away guns, they would be totally wrong as Jews were the only ones victimized by that monster.

    May 1, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  11. Boomer in Mo

    The NRA has the big bucks. We don't. End of story. Legislation is for those who can pay the most. It no longer has anything to do with need, ethics, doing the right thing...just money.

    May 1, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  12. Boomer in Mo

    By the way, I own a bunch of guns. A background check for the right to own guns because I'm not a criminal or a nutcase, with no listing of what guns I do own, would be OK with me.

    May 1, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  13. ghostriter

    Where were you conservatives when Bush was eroding YOUR rights with the Patriot Act? That's right....you were calling those against it traitors for defending the Constitution.

    Where were you when republicans were subverting voting rights of minorities, democrats and anyone they thought might not vote republican? That's right....you were cheerleading the efforts.

    You only care about what Fox tells you to care about.

    May 1, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  14. rob788

    She's gone next election. So are a few others. Watch.

    May 1, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  15. Freddie the Fez

    According to right wingers and Republicans, a few massacres of school children here and there are a small price to pay to avoid inconveniencing gun owners and potentially abridging some mentally unstable loner's 2nd Amendment rights. Republicans believe that those children died defending our right to own AK47 machine guns.

    May 1, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  16. Flmom

    Why burden other people when some people were shot and killed? Why punish gun store owners? Why even compare the death of someone's mother with a gun store owner? I understand the loved ones are sad but that isn't a free pass to punish everyone else or try to limit anyone else's rights.

    May 1, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  17. Paratrooper_us

    reasonablebe – Actually the Gun Lobbies are in favor of Mental Health restrictions and enforcement – they just worked with and supported Florida's initiative to strengthen their requirement of Mental Health and the bill was passed just this week. Prior to this week, the law stated that if you were non-voluntarily Baker Acted, then you were not allowed to purchase, they have now changed it to, any type of Baker Act (voluntarily or non-voluntarily) are not allowed to purchase. What I did not know is that studies show that only about 1% of Baker Acts are non-voluntarily.

    Before you spew comments of which you do not know – do a little research.

    May 1, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  18. jboh

    Hey, GET OVER IT, how many times has the TEA/GOP spent 4-5 million of tax-payers $ voting on repeal of Healthcare Reform? You lost in Congress, the lat election, and before the Supreme Court. Get over it TEA swiller.

    May 1, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  19. LookFool

    lol.. poor gun grabbers will have to wait for the next tragedy... lets hope its in Australia this time.. and lets hope its a katana that is used to slice multiple victims in half. It what the world needs and lets be honest its only a matter of time.

    May 1, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  20. Peoples State of Illinois

    @Boomer in Mo

    By the way, I own a bunch of guns. A background check for the right to own guns because I'm not a criminal or a nutcase, with no listing of what guns I do own, would be OK with me.
    ----------------------------
    I agree with you, but the problem is, they do want that list of guns everyone owns. That is the reason the bill failed. But the lefties are leaving that part out of their rants.

    May 1, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  21. mordrud

    Typical. That little girl's parents should have sent her to the correct place to complain. Her local school district board of supervisors and asked why they aren't protecting their children with at least as much security as the local Walmart?

    May 1, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  22. LookFool

    Indeed Rob... All the gun grabbers are getting voted out of office. and you scared losers will have to continue to hide and hope someone else saves you and your family. lol

    May 1, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  23. Dean

    Sametestsameresults

    Sametestsameresults
    You do realize that more people are killed by cars and clubs(blunt force weapons) than guns right? You also realize that more people are killed by hand guns than any type of so0called assault weapons? That being said, should we ban cars and baseball bats to protect us from ourselves? Should we take away your 5 guns because they are more likely to kill than those purposed to be banned? Once you allow for banning certain types of weapons or clips then that sets a precedent that will not be stopped. Your rights will keep getting chipped away at until they come for your guns. The you will feel threatened and there wont be a damned thing you can do about it.

    May 1, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  24. Steven

    The answer to her question should be easy, and should be this: Nothing the proposed bill would have prevented the tragedy that occurred in Sandy Hook. Adam Lanza failed a background check, and was still able to commit the horrendous crimes he committed. I voted NO for this, and I will vote against any other proposal that does not effectively reduce or eliminate the type of crime that was committed against your mother.

    May 1, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  25. Gun Rights SAVE Lives

    The real answer that lady should've been given is "I am sorry for your loss, but please understand that the reason why so many died unnecessarily that day was because no one had the means to protect them. What none of the good people in the school were allowed to carry firearms within the 'gun-free zone' that is the school property, the bad guy was able to go on a shooting rampage unabated. In the future, we need to ensure the gun rights of all good law abiding citizens to enable them to protect themselves from the bad guys with guns. And gun control DOES NOT stop the bad guys from owning guns. After all, a murderer is already willing to disobey some of the highest laws in the land to kill, do you think they will care about disobeying a gun registration law too? So please, remember, good people NEED guns to stop the bad guys, not be disarmed and left to become potential victims."

    Oh, and as for the idea about requiring gun owners to own safes, store guns in them at all times, make them responsible if their gun is stolen and used, etc.: What do you propose the gun-owner do when criminals break into their home? "Please Mr. Homicidal Maniac or Rapist or Gang Banger, wait while I dial in the combo for my safe, then unlock my gun trigger lock, and load my gun." By then, there's a good chance you're dead. You need to keep the thing hidden, up high out of reach of little kids, but ready to use just in case the unthinkable happens.

    May 1, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
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