Daughter of Newtown victim confronts senator
April 30th, 2013
07:39 PM ET
2 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. Debra

    Good for you!! All of the reps not voting for universal background checks should be voted out next election. Think we will not remember?

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

    Thank You Senator Ayotte. It requires Courage ( to stand up for what is right when the passionate mobs of the misinformed clamor continuously.

    April 30, 2013 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  3. Nancy Girard

    Senator Ayotte voted against background checks, less for the impact on gun shops in New Hampshire and more for the purpose of insinuating herself into the Republican leadership. She parrots Minority Leader McConnell and Senator Graham, showing up with them at numerous events where they are attacking the President, the Secretary of State and their fellow senators and nodding in time to their comments. Her vote on background checks and gun safety is indefensible and her conduct and votes as a Senator will be remembered when she is up for re-election. I for one, would prefer a representative that can formulate their own opinions and not simply stand behind others failed policies.

    April 30, 2013 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  4. betty geel

    anyone that wants to kill will always find a way.

    April 30, 2013 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  5. Sammy Z

    "the senator Ayotte argued the current system needed better enforcement."

    Gee Senator, if only you were in some position to, oh I don't know, do something about it?....You disgust me.

    April 30, 2013 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  6. Wildman

    Apparently, the Newtown people continue to NOT see there is no link to the background check legislation and the terrible murders they have endured. Perhaps some 'common sense' mental health laws would be a more meaningful approach? Can you grasp reality?

    April 30, 2013 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  7. annieL

    Another "pro-life" Republican voting for guns.

    April 30, 2013 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  8. GonzoinHouston

    This is a tactic we will see more of as the 2014 elections draw near.

    April 30, 2013 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  9. Martin US Army vet.

    It was a tragedy of what happened at Newtown. However We can't put in place any legislation that violates our rights or freedoms. As cruel as that sounds, the criminal that wants to get a weapon will.

    April 30, 2013 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  10. Richard James

    I can't even begin to express my dismay concerning the spineless senators that couldn't even vote for the move to strengthen background checks... Most Americans are for it along with other sensible 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."

    April 30, 2013 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  11. Randy, San Francisco

    Shame on Sen Ayotte for placing a higher value on the business concerns of gun store owners than the lives of young children.

    April 30, 2013 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  12. TJ

    Kelley Ayotte needs to be removed. New Hampshire is not far removed from the Sandy Hook massacre. VOTERS WILL NOT forget this heartless lack of support. This horror occurred in a small New England town.

    April 30, 2013 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  13. Hugh Mann

    Business is always more important than individuals,,,Skyscrapers don't grow on trees, my Friend.

    April 30, 2013 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  14. Willard Mayfield

    Back ground checks would not of stopped the wacko that STOLE his mothers guns them killed here.It would just hinder the law abiding citizens from getting there guns.I wish that women who jumped on the loser had a gun SHE could of killed him instead of jumping on him....

    April 30, 2013 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  15. jwhester

    Oh yes, let's have a "fuller discussion"! In other words rather than doing anything about dead American children, let's just talk about it.

    April 30, 2013 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  16. Katie

    What's wrong with background checks? Congress is not afraid to put burdens on businessmen and ordinary citizens for anything else, why coddle the gun salesmen? Tell them to tighten their belts too, we are all in this together.

    April 30, 2013 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  17. vidal808

    This Senator and her Republican Colleges are sickening. She better does not cross my way, I will sure give her my piece of mind also.

    April 30, 2013 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  18. mistamista

    I cannot believe that these lawmakers can't get ANYTHING accomplished! They sit down and hammer out an acceptable compromise and then they turn their back to their duty. It's time to kick these good-for-nothing gun rights apologists out of the debate. If they can't even vote for legislation that THEY create, how the hell can we ever expect to make any progress on anything else.

    April 30, 2013 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  19. Lars

    I'm sick of these Sandy Hook people.
    Most were just used for political reasons and have gotten out of the spotlight, but these few left who keep screaming for more gun laws are really getting on my nerves. Most Americans want background checks, WE HAVE THEM ALREADY, that check system PREVENTED Adam from buying firearms, he had to murder his mother and take her guns in order to get a gun. No current law the gungrabbers want passed would of stopped this tragedy. Most Americans DO NOT want expanded checks, the misinfo and outright lies the gungrabbers use will not get new gun legislation pass and quite frankly it is shameful behavior. Gun rights supporters and new people getting into the shooting sports are growing in great numbers with each passing day. We are the majority. What really bothers me most other than the children being killed and the gun grab attempt right after is the fact that the gungrabbers were so heartless and dedicated to bad politics that we, gun rights supporters, were not even allowed to mourn these victims as media, politicians and the gungrabbing public didn't allow us to. We are called monsters for supporting the one right that allows all the other rights to exist. To use dead children and the victims families in an attempt to pull off the biggest gun grab in the history of this nation is one of the most despicable and disturbing actions I have ever witnessed. Shame on all of you.

    April 30, 2013 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  20. Brian Nordin

    When you vote against 90% of what the American People want, you should be voted out of office – regardless of the issue. This should have been an easy positive vote – and instead of doing what her constituents wanted, she did what the NRA leadership wanted; a leadership that represents the Gun Lobby much more than law-abiding American gun owners and hunters. We are a Representative Democracy – and she didn't represent the folks who put her there in the first place. Her approval rating among Independents is in free-fall. God help her (and those other Democrats and Republicans) that voted against Universal Background Checks if there is another mass shooting – and if that in any way is due to the ease with which people can buy very dangerous weapons without a back-ground checks. I suspect their approval ratings will dive and they will be voted out of office..... I hope that never happens, but history tells us different....

    April 30, 2013 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  21. Wes

    I too think we have plenty of laws that are not enforced. We need to look no further than the case of Alice Boland. A background check failed to identify her as a mental patient possibly because of a rule that allowed the government to drop charges after her guilty plea. Yep, she threatened to kill the president and plead guilty, spent a few years in the federal looney bin and her name was not added to the background check database by federal prosecutors.

    Want to know what would stop a school shooting? Google "Pearl High School Shooting".

    April 30, 2013 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  22. Rob

    Republicans are tone deaf to the will of the nation. They are a disgrace.

    April 30, 2013 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  23. Namejanek

    Again the Democrats despicable exploration of Newton tragedy, knowing that this bill would never prevent the Newton tragedy they still exploiting this tragic event.

    April 30, 2013 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  24. breater1

    The Fing "reps" are owned lock, stock and barrel by the corporations and the interests.
    Their goal: maintain their power, enrich themselves, no matter who or what gets hurt in the process.
    And, oh that last sentence refers to both the interests and the "reps".

    April 30, 2013 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  25. pbernasc

    I'm just wondering why the burden of my mother being gunned down in the halls of her elementary school isn't as important."
    Well the answer is simple, it's because the NRA doesn't give a shlt about dead people

    April 30, 2013 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
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