(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.
Im about tired of Newtown thinking they should be able to change the country. I understand they suffered a great deal, but now they need to shut up and move on. If America changed laws after every mass murder there be absolutely zero rights left in the U.S. Sorry for your loss Newtown, but 1 killer doesnt deserve to the glory of stripping the entire nation of basic rights.
Bye Kelly, you sold your vote and your soul to the NRA...
Yet more evidence that our legislators do not operate of their own free will, and worse, disregard the needs of their constituents. Sad!!!
They "didn't do anything" when the government collapsed during a natural disaster and the "police" confiscated weapons in New Orleans either. There's at least two sides to every debate, both sides can trot out victims and victims families. Creating a side show out of one of the most serious issues facing this country is counter-productive.
burden on gun store owners, oh cry, what about the burden of the innocent injured and dead
"Sorry, Ms. Lafferty, but being a Republican I'm obligated to look out for the gun industry. My reelection also depends on insecure right-wingers who would rather see children massacred than see their penis-supplements (Guns) have to be registered." – Sen. Kelly Ayotte.
Lots of us have lost our sons and daughters lady, including me! That doesn't give you the right to try and take away and restrict the constitutional rights of others because of your loss! I lost my daughter to a CAR! How about me and the other 37 thousand families that lose a child to a CAR "every year" start working on having YOUR CAR AND DRIVING PRIVILEGES REVOKED!?
My right to own a gun is a INALIENABLE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT!
Get over it like the rest of us who have lost children have done!!
The same liberals want an ID and background check for purchasing a gun – makes sense to me, but don't want you to have to have ID to vote????
She needs to make sure the mental health of those in her own party aren't compromised first
The Senator has but one priorty – raise money for next election!
Until unless one of the causality from the shooting is form the family members of republican law makers this bill not go through because they don’t feel the pain of a loss of loved one. Imagine you drop your kid in an elementary school at 7.45 in the morning and at 3.00 instead of going back to school to pick up your kid to school you rush to mortuary ………… can you take that pain.
Senator Ayotte is again postponing doing anything at all on the issue of gun control. If she subscribes to the NRA mantra of "guns don't kill people, only people kill people" then how can she defend not having mandatory background checks. Once upon a time the NRA actually called for that, though the current leadership has since changed it's tune.
If Senator Ayotte says that we first need to enforce the existing laws, where is she on the nomination of a permanent head of the ATF? Where has she been on adequate funding of the ATF?
And Sen Ayotte probably said it all with a straight face. Too much of a burden to take 3 minutes during a gun purchase to do a background check? Unbelievable cowardice.
I think it's clear by the polls how the no voters lost respect and popularity. Good luck on your next election spineless cowards.
This is the beginning of the end for the NRA and the gun nuts. They are on wrong side of history.
I was for background checks for private sales too, but it doesn't break my heart that it didn't pass. (Private sales. All other sales are covered. This was private sales only. You drive sales to homes, parkinglots, driveways in that case.)
You know what else? It wouldn't have prevented Sandy Hook.
We're sorry for her loss, but it wouldn't have prevented Sandy Hook.
I guess she probably needs to keep repeated it - it wouldn't have prevented Sandy Hook.
"Ayotte argued the current system needed better enforcement."
I tell my 5 year old to finish what's on his plate before he asks for more. And I'm going to tell people who want MORE LAWS OF ANY KIND, JUST GIVE US MORE that "you need to enforce what you have."
Ten percent of people are prosecuted for lying on their Form 4473's to get guns from DEALERS. TEN PERCENT!!
And we get outrage at a failure to pass background check legislation for PRIVATE sales?!
The LAST people you want making public policy regarding crime are the victims of crimes, especially right after the crime occurred, because they are so personally biased in their beliefs and will be influenced by emotion rather than reason.
Would the gunman have subjected himself to a background check when he got the weapon? Just asking a simple question.
Mental health my foot. Senators bought and sold by gun lobby like cheap hookers. Shame on you people
Maybe the daughter of the victim could educate herself so she would understand that nothing in this bill would have prevented the Newtown shooting. Lanza's mom bought the weapons.
"The bill would be a BURDEN on the gun store owners " It is always about the BUCKS with these idiots ! When 80% of the nation wants it done this is what we get ???? They should be in jail !
The guns weren't purchased by the shooter, so how does this woman think background checks relate to her mother's murder? If anything, that incident is proof that this stuff can and will happen regardless of a background check amendment.
This is shameful. What in the world is the point of voting AGAINST background checks for assault weapons? I am a proud libertarian, and this is beyond me. I don't care what your politics are, there is NO legitimate argument against ensuring that violent criminals can't freely purchase assault weapons. Is there?
Logically, a background check on the mother turned up nothing and the kid was denied being able to purchase one. So what is the problem? Blame the dead mother, stop blaming law abiding gun owners who keep their weapons locked!
It is plain dumb not to see that.
I am still waiting for someone to explain how expanded background checks would have prevented the Newtown massacre.