(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.
I suppose my previous post will not be posted on CNN's soundoff since it proposes a sound logical argument against additional gun control.
Expanding background checks would not have change what happened at Sandy Hook. It would not have change what happened in Colorado or at Virginia Tech. As soon as people get this the sooner we can find a solution. Everyone wants to be safe but no one is willing to give up a little privacy to obtain it.....
Miss Lafferty has obviously sold out to the Obama propaganda machine!
Yes, access to mental health services is an issue here, but more stringent background checks for people with criminical records or mental health issues with evidence of risk for harm to others are part and parcel to the mental health component of which Ayotte speaks.
The measure to expand background checks on firearms sales would not have prevented the murders at Newtown, Connecticut or any of the other mass murders. The measure would have been just another "feel good, but accomplish nothing" law.
Instead, take a look at the violent and graphic video games and movies that kids play and watch all day. For anybody with one oar out of the water, these will push them over the edge.
Please vote this cretin out of office at the next opportunity.
This would not have prevented Sandy Hook in any pay. To present it as if it would have is to use emotion to bolster a weak argument. This is the lowest forms of politics.
Her loss is tragic. I will never feel the way she feels. At least I hope not. But within that legislature exists nothing that would have prevented Sandy Hook from happening. The weapons Lanza used were legally purchased by his mother.
Our legislators are barking up the wrong tree. It is easy to blame the weapons but there are deeper issues here and I do believe the events in Boston serve to prove that.
I am truly sorry for every life lost to gun violence but this legislation will do nothing to prevent more of it.
australia's gun legislation worked – they havent had one mass shooting since – zero
Is she $tuupid enough to think a background check would've prevented Lanza from stealing and killing to get a gun? How fecking dumb are liberals and CNN?
Metal health should be the issue, not gun control! These victims are being played by politicians trying to chip away at mine and your constitutional rights. I feel for her, but she isn't looking at the real problem.
Not one article about Lanza...the gun is to blame.
Sad our politicians are more concerned for gun owners than the citizens of this country! This is why everyone hates this country!!!
Selling out the American people to the gun lobby should have dire consequences for Washington.
Good for you, Erica! It's time to stand up against the politicians who are in the NRA's back pocket.
Ayotte is just another partisan hack that votes party line. She could care less about the victims of Newtown.
Too bad Ayotte and her ilk are spineless. Now Ayotte is tanking in the polls. The time for Americans to vote out the cowards.
That's the best reason she could come up with??? It would be a hardship on gun shop owners. What a sad excuse for a senator. I thought they were supposed vote by what your constituents want.
"... the legislation would be a burden on gun store owners..."
Wow, that is just disgusting.
And her answers to Mrs. Lafferty just rubbed salt in the wound.
Maybe Ayotte is still trying to earn her stripes as the "third stooge" to stand with McCain and Graham.
All three are disgusting, she would fit right in.
McCain lost me forever after his comment on AC 360 last night,
Graham hugs his AR-15 too much,
Ayotte, trying to be relevant.
Yep, the Three Stooges, for sure.
I wish they would find the real killers in the Sandy Hook tragedy.
At what point do the American people start holding these so-called representatives accountable for ignoring their constituency?
Big money has bought Congress. Seriously ... how is that reversed?
A background check would not have prevented anything.
blah blah blah mental health, 2nd amendment, law abiding gun owners, we have no guts.
I hope the Senator enjoys her one term.
Can you say conflict of interest?