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. SokrMom

    Unfortunately, the rest of us don't get to confront these NRA lackeys until 2014...

    May 1, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  2. cgp

    Preventing the mentally unstable from purchasing guns would have done nothing to prevent the Newtown massacre. The kid took his mother's assualt riffle... if she didn't have it, no massacre. Perhaps we can allow folks to rent an assault riffle at shooting ranges if they really feel like to shoot one to be happy.

    May 1, 2013 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  3. John Lubeck

    What kind of vermin votes against this gun bill. If you are in the NRA then you helped pull the trigger and shoot 20 1st graders.

    May 1, 2013 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    Ayotte's posturing at faux sympathy for Lafferty's mother is stomach churning. Ayotte is proud to support conservatives like the American gunrunning industry and keep them free from "inconvenience" when selling guns to an obvious straw purchaser.

    May 1, 2013 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  5. Darryl

    "There are no easy solutions, but one thing that might help is the prosecution of the gun owner regardless of who pulls the trigger."
    What are you smoking? Would the same be said if your daughter or son while driving your car without your knowledge ran a red light; and in doing so struck another vehicle killing a passenger. Then YOU would be prosecuted for the crime even though you had no knowledge your vehicle was gone. That my friend is why the burden of proof in complicity laws is so high. You can not convict someone for the criminal act of others, unless they were directly involved knew the crime was to occur thus making them a de facto accessory. Contemplating such nonsense is just plain old stupidity.

    May 1, 2013 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  6. Ordinary Average American

    We have to vote these losers out of office . . . they are NOT representing the people . . . they're all about accepting bribes from the likes of the NRA to keep everything in America screwed up! They deserve to tried for treason, imho!

    May 1, 2013 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  7. massoud

    Why did she not ask any Democratic Senators who opposed the gun control bill ?

    May 1, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  8. al

    It is a shame that a simple background check is voted down. I am a gun owner and defend my rights to own a gun but to vote down better background checks makes absolutely no sense to me at all

    May 1, 2013 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  9. Bridget

    I am a REPUBLICAN and I would like more background checks-but with that being said, we cannot trust the Commander in Chief to stop there.

    May 1, 2013 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  10. yogi

    The right of the people to vote, shall not be infringed. Vote Republicans out of office at every opportunity.

    May 1, 2013 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  11. mogran

    We already have background checks, we don't need more, we don't need additional gun control laws, we need idiot control laws!

    May 1, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    Reading the majoirty of comments on here from the gun toting lovers makes me cry for our country and mankind in general. I guarantee that if the nutcase LaPierre didn't do a 180 and still supported background checks like he did a few years ago, all of you NRA followers would be for them as well. No one is taking away your precious guns but it sure would be nice to know something is being done to try to prevent another Columbine, Sandy Hook, etc. Of course there will never be any guarantee another mass murder with guns won't take place but why is our society racing further and further to the bottom??? Why have any laws at all if the excuse if always going to be that criminals won't follow them – that is so lame!!!

    May 1, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  13. mogran

    Additional gun control laws are not required when we already have them in place. It would be far more advantageous to figure out how to control mentally ill folks!

    May 1, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  14. mogran

    Bring on 2014...time to end the anti-gun crowd nonsense once and for all!

    May 1, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  15. ghostriter

    I post numerous articles detailing how the NRA and republicans pretty much made enforcing the existing laws impossible and yet no response. Not that I'm at all surprised. Though it is funny seeing that line repeated.

    When talking points go bad....just keep saying them until they are back in style.

    May 1, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  16. Jules

    The answer was that the money that the NRA gives me to vote the way they want is way more important that your mother's life and the lives of those 20 kids. The shame should live with Ayotte forever. There are no explanations, Senator.

    May 1, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  17. FLIndependent

    Reading the majority of comments on here from the gun toting lovers makes me very sad for our country and for mankind in general. Guarantee that if the nutcase LaPierre didn't do a 180 and still supported expanded background checks as he did a few years back, then the NRA followers would be all for them. No one is coming after your precious guns. What has happened to our society that a race to the bottom has become the norm instead of a race to the top? Why have any laws if the excuse is always going to be a criminal won't follow them – well duh!!

    May 1, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  18. ghostriter

    Gun owner who is for a gun registry here......We can have a voting registry that republicans want checked.....why not a gun registry?

    1st conservative to claim a registry will lead to confiscation wins a free IQ test. Result: below stupid.

    May 1, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  19. Independent


    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!
    Another liberal showing their ignorance, background checks are in place, if you buy from a licensed gun dealer they are REQUIRED to do a background check regardless if they are at a gun show OR gun store!!! If you buy from a private party they might not require it but guess what, this will never change because that will be the BLACK MARKET. If criminals want to buy and sell guns to each other they will nothing you do or say will stop them, no background check law will stop this!!!! Get a CLUE!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 1, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  20. Rembrant

    Whether or not gun laws would have prevented the Newtown shootings is not the point. The majority of the people in this country want tougher gun laws, and being bought off by the gun lobby is a clear sign of how corrupt and broken our Government is. It is not just the gun lobby that corrupts our Government. The Big Pharmaceuticals, Healthcare, Banking.... the list goes on and on. It is a travesty and contributes to the downfall of our great country.
    But hey... I will probably be labeled a communist or something for pointing this out.

    May 1, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  21. Jack D.R.

    "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." The best response to the question would be, I voted against the background check amendment because I wanted to. Ms. Laffery, stay in your own state.

    May 1, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  22. Bill the Cat

    There is absolutely no correlation between increased gun control measures and decreased gun violence. Anecdotal evidence does not defeat raw statistics.

    May 1, 2013 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  23. FLIndependent

    @Howard – Lets see... First there is already a background check system in place... Second why did the democratic majority vote down the amendment on mental health and stronger penalties for those who lie on their background checks, and to fund the ability to prsecute those who do. I'll tell you why... It's because it would interfere with their actual agenda which is destroy the second amendment and to disarm the public. Criminals do not obatain firearms legally and that is a fact! As a law-abiding gun owner and member of the NRA, I refuse to be put in the same category as these crazies.
    You may want to check the Senate vote count as the MAJORITY of Dems voted for the legislation. Unfortunately, there is this insane Senate rule that 60 votes are needed to pass anything. How that is representative of a so-called democracy I don't know. I do blame Harry Reid for not having the cahones to change this as I'm sure if the Repubs take the Senate they will change it immediately.

    May 1, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  24. tendofreak

    The laws are already in place. A background check WAS done on the purchase of the rifle tha was used. Anymore background checks are NOT going to stop these mass killings. Our government is a broken machine anyway. A report was issued on the names of thepeople on the anti-terroist and no-fly list on those who attemepted to purchase arms. 91% were succesful in purchasing guns. We have laws, they're just not enforced.

    May 1, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  25. Seth Hill

    The Senator decided "the burden on gun store owners" would be greater than the burden on the families of 20 children slain by a crazy kid who grabbed his mom's legal guns. So the Senator represents .... ?

    May 1, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
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