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. Just another Nickel

    Let's talk cars for a moment...anyone ever here of a small kid getting in a car and driving it down the road, or how about somebody of sound mind driving into a building or off of a road, or causing a crash to where many die needlessly. Now I am sure that it is the car's fault, and certainly we should all be walking because of the few that cannot simply follow the rules or they get a hair up their butt and decide that road rage is preferenced. But as many of you talk, I can see an excellent argument for getting rid of the car. And we all know...there are more crazies in cars then there are gun owners! Now that is a fact! I can see where some in this forum would see justice in prosecuting the car manufacturer or the dealer, and perhaps even the state that issued the license...however where would this place your legs? That's right, hard feet to pavement! So where is the issue? Is it the individual crazies or the hardware that is the culprit? You spew guns...I spew idiots! I will support you getting rid of guns after you get rid of all hardware that makes it possible for one human to kill or harm another.

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

    I doubt any of these commenters even bothered to read the bill. This "90%" BS is exactly that, BS. The poll was of 1100 people, not the nation and the questions were leading to procure the result they wanted. But hey, 67% of the stastics are made up on the spot right?

    May 1, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  3. DA

    Nothing being proposed would have made a difference in Newtown. What's so difficult to understand?

    May 1, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  4. dreg

    why aren't the liberals going after handguns? Handguns are the cause of over 80% of firearm deaths each year. Rilfles are used in about 2% of firearms deaths each year. The rest are classified as "other", not sure what that means but look it up on the fbi's website. Because they are sneaky that's why...they use high profile massacres that are rare to push their agenda. Why aren't the conservatives using the gosnell baby murder case to push their agenda? Because they aren't sneaky and don't grandstand with the media....I would respect liberals a thousand times more if they were going after handguns because THAT is where all of the firearms murders come from...i wouldn't support it but at least i would respect what they are trying to do

    May 1, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  5. Clif Westin

    Excuse me if I'm wrong, but there was no provision in the bill to do background checks before a thief steals a gun and goes on a shooting rampage. Was there an amendment or something?

    May 1, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  6. sevensins

    Sad story, I feel for the families still trying to come to grips with the event, but she is an idiot and the media needs to STFU about this. I don't blame her, she was severely affected, but logic and rational escape her thought process. So how is to blame if not the grandstanding media? Still trying to keep this dead issue alive.

    May 1, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  7. JOHN

    GUN control will do NOTHING to make people safer, its only about control by the govt over you....anyone who does not realize this is blinded by ignorance.

    May 1, 2013 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  8. Jim

    More whining from loser gun grabbers. Quit crying you lost and will always lose on this issue. Pull yourselves together it's very undignified.

    May 1, 2013 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  9. Doug

    Why does everyone think that a "Gun Free Zone" keeps anyone safe? If that were true, there would never be any mass murders.

    May 1, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  10. JOHN

    democrat voters...so sad...please please big daddy govt, protect me from evil guns, softdrinks, fried food, medication, and myself...since I am a democrat, I cant take care of myself or my family, I cant make decisions on my own, please do that for me...oh and please take other peoples money and freedoms away to make me FEEL good.

    May 1, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  11. akismet-caeaeae3520f10a19fe17dd54d688d8e

    Uhm... how would expanding background checks prevent situations like the Newton tragedy? This man STOLE the gun.

    How do we get expanded background checks? We find a tragedy where a LAW ABIDING gun owner was at fault. You can't seriously think more laws will prevent someone from stealing... I'm all for stricter gun laws, but right now, none of the tragedies that have occurred lately have been by a LAW ABIDING gun owner.

    May 1, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  12. JOHN

    A background check would of made ZERO difference. There have been about 44,000 viloations of people trying to buy guns and being denied gun purchases since 2011, yet only about 40 were prosecuted....dont u see the hypocricy? Dems always want to play on your emotions in order to take away your freedom and control you...so sad u dont use logic.

    May 1, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  13. Janie

    So this is my reason for all gun purchase to have background checks: We now know that anyone that is in the country can purchase a gun through the loopholes (gun shows). Now let's think about, instead of bombs like that was done in Boston, these people had gone to gun shows and purchased any guns that they wanted to use against Americans. That is what scares me!! No one would have stopped them. How many people would they have killed instead of 3.

    May 1, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  14. Peoples State of Illinois


    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
    It was voted down because it is not a "simple background check." Try reading the bill, especially section 122 which would create a defacto gun registry. When that part is included in polls, the 90% quickly drops to well below 50%.

    May 1, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    The problem is the mindset that has people thinking that it is a "burden" to have businesses do background checks. One would think that as responsible members of the community, it would be the moral responsibility of businesses to make sure they aren't selling guns to someone who shouldn't have one in the first place.

    May 1, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  16. Brian

    If we need more gun control laws, then the laws against murder, attempted murder, and assault with a deadly weapon are apparently not working. Help me understand how more laws will make me safer?

    May 1, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  17. Rossi

    How is it the rest of the modern industrialized democratic nations on the planet have figured this problem out, yet seemingly America keeps trying to prove that the status quo is correct in the face of horrific gun violence. I've come to the unfortunate conclusion that you cannot talk common sense to strong gun advocates on this topic. You will get nowhere. Seemingly otherwise intelligent and sensible people will make ridiculous statements based upon weak and unsound logic.

    May 1, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  18. erin

    Yes, Republicans, you have a lot of explaining to do!!!! How much did you get for your vote from NRA?

    May 1, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  19. mfh

    Getting rid of any of the guns or magazines isn't going to work. Doing more background checks will ultimately lead to another intelligence database used for mining by our friends in Government with eventual confiscation. I believe this to be true.

    NRA is not the evil here, its people that do evil.

    May 1, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  20. peakprofit

    Once again, we have to hear armchair pundits interpret the notions of the 'Founding Fathers'. None of us had the pleasure of speaking to Adams, Jefferson, Burr, Hamilton et. al. So we cannot know conclusively what they meant. But I ask this question: Why would these Founders wish to allow every citizen to have a gun (ostensibly to prevent tyranny) when they would not allow the vast majority of the country to vote for that government?

    Actual citizens did not get to vote in the first 5 Presidential elections. In the 'senate' elections in each state, only land owners were given the right to vote. Keep in mind that there was no such thing as a mortgage then. Either you paid cash, owned the property, and voted, or you were not a land owner and did not vote. In other words, almost none of those who so vociferously defend the 2nd Amendment would have actually been able to vote for their favorite Founding Father.

    To review, all these prescient 2nd Amendment defenders are asserting that the Founding Fathers did not feel the general public was deserving or capable of a vote deciding the makeup of their government, but absolutely should be provided with the ability to violently overthrow that government with firearms.

    This is, of course, absurd. The 2nd Amendment had nothing to do with the overthrow of a stable central United States government. The fear – if any – was that foreign governments would exert pressure on the fledgling American government. The Spanish were still in Florida. The English were still in Canada. The French were still in much of the Midwest. There was a legitimate threat that these foreign influences could exert enough pressure to try to impose their will on these new United States. Of course, trying to explain this to these dolts is impossible, as they were smoking in the woods outside the school when these lessons were taught.

    May 1, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  21. NH resident

    Gun rights are a very tricky issue. I dont own a gun, don't endorse the use of guns, wouldn't want one in my house. But gun laws and rights in NH are a very tricky political issue. Many NH residents are pro gun ownership, and while I and many disagree with the Senator the vast majority of NH residents agree with her....and I think it is important to remember she is representing NH not the US. I will never vote for Ms. Ayotte but I think her vote represented the people of NH who put her in office. If she is wrong she will not be there in 6 years.

    May 1, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  22. Breatheasy

    Money talks. Courage walks.

    May 1, 2013 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  23. codarnall

    Five stabbed in St Judes church in Albuquerque. No news though.

    May 1, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  24. Inspire

    You're right – Background checks would not have stopped the Newton shootings. Mental health reform? Hard to say until we start talking about specific reforms. A lot of folks seem to conveniently forget that Lanza's mother was working through the courts to get her son committed to mental health care. He was of age, so the process was involved.

    Assault Weapons, though? Gun-control advocates like to play too many games with the definition to ever get it passed. In addition, the Department of Justice's 2011 statistics on crime show that <0.1% of all gun-related homicides involved Assault Weapons. Lanza also had two other weapons on his person that were not assault weapons – would the absence of the Bushmaster have stopped his slaughter? I don't know. Magazine Capacity bans – we know how many shots were fired. We know he reloaded. We know he was not subdued while doing so.

    It's just tough to make broad policy changes based on an event like this when there's not much in the way of solid evidence that they would have avoided the event were they in place prior to it. But politicians love to stuff their pork and agendas into bills where the voter base has strong opinions.

    You folks should really watch the full Youtube clip, though. Lafferty asked Ayotte why the rights burden of legislation of 300+ million American citizens was worth more than the life of her mother with regards to Ayotte's refusal to vote for the original UBC Bill (she later voted for the bipartisan compromise bill, taking significant heat from her own party). Ayotte calmy offered condolences and explained that UBC would not have prevented the Newton massacre – and she's right.

    Lafferty soon after stormed out of the meeting in progress. I can understand she's upset, but legislation needs to make sense, and she wasn't making any. The senator's answer was well-reasoned. So you folks lambasting on about the NRA buying votes and other such nonsense are truly ignorant of the whole story here, and if you had any shred of integrity, you'd go have a look at it all for yourself before jumping to such ridiculous conclusions.

    The Bill died because the bill wasn't good. That's all there is to it.

    May 1, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  25. Smitty

    We wouldn't want to be a burden on gun store owners in order to save lives. It's pathetic that our elected officials don't vote for what the public believes.

    May 1, 2013 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
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