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. judith

    I hope Ayotte gets kicked out next time around. She's in a very dangerous place–New England–that her radically conservative views are totally out of step with the region. Like the rest of the toadies of the NRA, she spits in the face of the families of Sandy Hook. Shame on her.

    April 30, 2013 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  2. JackName

    All those voted against this – dems & repubs should be voted out.

    April 30, 2013 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  3. Overmann

    I applaud Sen. Ayotte for standing her ground and not being shamed into approving a legislative abomination.

    April 30, 2013 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  4. Darkness

    While I do think it is tragic that her mother was gunned down, she does not seem to understand that the shooter did not own the guns and therefore did not go through any back ground cheaks. This would mean that furthering back ground cheaks would infact burdon gun owners with out mitigating the risk for further violent acts.

    It is easy to argue for more gun control by using emotion while it is much harder to do so by useing logic... I'm not sure why this is news at this point.

    April 30, 2013 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  5. Bill

    "...agree on going forward..." How lame and cliche can it get? Politispeak is passe. And "agree"? Give me a break! Give us all a break! What are you, where are you, and what tired excuse are you going to aim your crutch at the next time? Can you not vote as a human being and stay clear and clean of party line doofus dealings? Resign. Make room for a decent individual who has regard for human lives.

    April 30, 2013 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  6. Tom

    The Republican Senator's concern with mental health issues is a joke, right? We've heard this song sung before. The SECOND a mental health proposal comes forth, it will be accused as being just another Obama Big Government Solution, with "Big Government Snake Pit Panels," blah-blah-blah.

    April 30, 2013 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  7. Richard James

    I can't even begin to express my disgust for spineless senators that couldn't even vote for the move to strengthen background checks... Most Americans are for it along with other measures. For God sake – what does it take? Let's see – what could it be? 1) The $ is coming in to their campaign coffers, and 2) they don't have the intelligence and compassion to face down the belligerent, Nugent-clowns that have been spouting their mindless nonsense about some sinister gov't takeover, and the loss of our "civil liberties." Only if someone gunned down their spouses or kids in some heinous way would it get their attention... Just like self-centered Portman from Ohio who "saw the light" on gay issues only after his son "came out." We have to face and tame the dogs!

    April 30, 2013 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  8. OBO123

    Thanks Senator Kelly Ayotte for upholding our rights. Doing what's popular (at the moment) and doing what's right are two different things, and I'm glad you made the right choice.

    April 30, 2013 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  9. OOO

    I hope she can't sleep at night.

    April 30, 2013 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  10. Mike

    I was a NRA member. No more. Another gutless Senator catering to the far right.

    April 30, 2013 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  11. Village idiot

    I'm sorry for their loss but the gun was stolen from his Mom and that was against the law and so was murdering her too... criminals dont care about more laws! Please buy a safe and secure your gun properly if you own one.

    April 30, 2013 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  12. JamesT

    "Burden on gun store owners." That's ridiculous. Every business has burdens it has to meet and when it's dealing with weapons it should be burdensome, not impossible, but burdensome.

    If she thought there needed to be more to address mental health issues why didn't she offer an amendment to do that? They tack on amendments left and right that have nothing to do with the original intent of the bill, why not in this case?

    April 30, 2013 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  13. Steve D.

    But gun store owners already have to do background checks. How would this be a burden on them? The Senator seems confused.

    April 30, 2013 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  14. patrick

    Backtrack backtrack...just be honest.

    April 30, 2013 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  15. Alexander Smith

    What the senators need to think about is what they would want done if it had been their kids gunned down with out a chance to have a full life because of some gun store owners irresponsibilty because they dont want to deal with paperwork. If they didnt want to do the paperwork then they shouldnt be gun store owners.

    April 30, 2013 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  16. sue, vienna, va

    I'm sick and tired of republican politician's excuses for avoiding voting against more stringent gun laws. Their rhetoric is boring and redundant. There are only a limited number of members of congress who have a backbone or a mind of their own. They're nothing but puppets for the money people behind their party. If they weren't so spineless I'd feel sympathy for them.

    April 30, 2013 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  17. scott

    Maybe she voted against it cause she still believes that true freedom means people are responsible for their own actions and will be punished if they brake the law. This is not rocket science.

    April 30, 2013 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  18. yogi

    Ayotte is a coward and so are the others who voted against the bill. At the next election it is our turn: Vote Republicans out of office, they a disgrace.

    April 30, 2013 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  19. Mike Hunt, Esq.

    "I'm just wondering why the burden of my mother being gunned down in the halls of her elementary school isn't as important."

    It is important, but it's also irrelevant to the topic of background checks. Her mother was not gunned down with a weapon that was obtained without a background check. A background check was indeed performed and passed when that weapon was acquired. Even if this amendment were already law a decade ago, her mother would still be dead right now.

    April 30, 2013 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  20. AceGirlshusband

    Erika, would you think your mother would want to punish people who had nothing to do with her death?

    April 30, 2013 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  21. Namedave

    They already have background checks. Liberals ate too dense.

    April 30, 2013 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  22. vivdrummer

    I'm thinking the young lady who spoke up at the town hall to Sen. Ayotte does not understand what happened in Newtown. Tougher background checks would not have stopped Adam Lanza from taking his mother's guns and murdering her and the teachers and students at Newtown elementary. Remember, Lanza did not purchase/own these weapons.

    The people who should be asking these questions are the people who live in inner cities who live in fear everyday of gun violence perpetrated by drug dealers/gang members who obtain weapons illegally. The reason gun registration is so important is because these criminals rely on buyers who don't have a criminal record to purchase these guns for them. If someone is buying 30 guns/year or more, the police need to know if the people buying them still have them in their possession. If this person only has 1 gun, it stands to reason that this person might be buying guns for criminals.

    April 30, 2013 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  23. alex

    So in the meantime while we work the mental health issue, let's go ahead and let the insane and dangerous continue buying WMDs and using them against innocent Americans. Ayotte is just another NRA minion. And the NRA has killed more Americans than terrorists. Yeah I said it, because it's true.

    April 30, 2013 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  24. here and back again

    When Congress required seat belts, certain groups cried "Oh the cost of cars will skyrocket". It didn't happen.
    When they required a raise in the minimum wage, the same groups cried "Oh people will lose their jobs". It didn't happen.
    When they say "It will cause more work for the gun dealers"....seriously? Do we really need to go here?

    Change will happen. There are no excuses that hold merit for failing to pass this legislation. It was a good compromise.

    April 30, 2013 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  25. Name

    Silly bill would have prevented nothing

    April 30, 2013 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
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