(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.
Running the risk of sounding crass but background checks wouldn't have stopped this shooting.
Instead of pestering Senators on this measure, they should be pestering the people of Conn on why mental health patients are set free even when they are deemed a threat to society.
Those pushing the gun control laws admitted that they would do NOTHING to stop events like this from taking place. The bigger agenda here is to take guns away from law abiding citizens, most of whom are not the typical Democrat supporting electorate. This is cultural warfare more than anything. The second amendment has nothing to do with hunting. We have the second amendment as another check and balance on government power. If there are those of you who think it's stupid for us not to trust our government, remember that for most of human history, the human condition has been one of oppression, poverty and violence by the state. The thing that made American an exceptional nation was our founding principles as enshrined in the Constitution. As we move further away from our founding principles, the probability of our government becoming tyrannical goes way up. God help us if we experience a true economic collapse in our lifetime. Those in power will do anything to keep it, freedoms and God given rights be damned.
How about we send children of parents who are alive because their parent had a gun? Or those whose parent is dead because they didn't have a gun? You can't stop crazy and stunts like this are the only way liberals and democrats can accomplish anything since logic and reason escape them.
As badly as I do feel for this girl's loss I am forced to ask her if she's awoken to reality yet? The fact is that someone that HAD passed the background checks supplied the weapons used for this massacre!! So what would have been different? Wake up people, CRIMINALS don't care about or have ANY respect for the law period!!
No, Ms.Lafferty, your mother being gunned down is not enough. My mother, my children, everyone I love, is not enough to give up any single right I have. Your mother was gunned down because a nut took advantage of our freedoms, and that is unfortunate and you have my sympathy. But that's the cost of freedom. It's been paid for by countless others who have been gunned down protecting it.
A burden to gun store owners... This Senator obviously thinks KA-CHING first, not people. Big Biz, Big Med, Big Pharma, Big Ag ... profits over people. American 2013.
See, all they care about is the profits of gun store owners.
More proof that the people we send to Washington are out of touch with reality. We really need to take a good look at the candidates before we send these people to represent us. It seems that over the last twenty-five years we've sent people to Washington that just are not fit for the job.
Amazing! Our representatives will do nothing about controlling firearms. Wait until the next incident then come up with all kinds of excuses. ... and you wonder why nothing gets done in Wash D. C. Sad!
My question to Erica Lafferty, "Please prove how expanded background checks would have prevented Newtown when the threat of a background check from existing law prevented Adam Lanza from purchasing a gun?".
The only measure proposed that would have actually done anything to prevent recent shootings came from the GOP, strengthen the mental health reporting into the existing background checks. May have prevented Loughner, UCF shooter, and Aurora.
This is what Americans need to do right up until the elections...confront each and every one of these Senators who voted against the background check, which according to polls 90% of Americans and 78% of NRA members wanted. Engage them in conversation and demand explanations as to why they voted as they did.
It is INSANITY to be against background checks. Fanatical, insanity.
Running the risk of sounding crass but background checks wouldn't have stopped that one.
Yeah... and how many Dems voted against it? Why the obvious slant against Repubs?
Senator Ayotte stood by McCain when he was questioning Benghazi attacks when we all know there were over 20 under the Bush administration and no one even blinked about all the deaths....she stood next to him like a deer in the headlights doing what she was told. She's following the good old boys' rule book once again in regards to the NRA. She's a VP or President wannabe and she needs the Republican Party and the NRA on her side to support her financially. She'll do anything, including defending the burden on gun retailers vs the burden of parents having to bury their children and plan their funerals! Shame on Kelly Ayotte, I hope NH votes her out when she's due for re-election!
Ayotte is a coward and a gun lobby puppet. She places the "burden" on gun store owners (as her excuse went) above the lives of children. She should be extremely ashamed of herself, but I don't think she has a heart in her body or any feelings whatsoever, so I'm sure she isn't ashamed.
let,s outlaw pressure cookers also,people wont to kill, they will, sad but true
Expanded background checks wouldn't have stopped Newtown. The shooter didn't buy his weapons, his mother did.
What good is it to address mental health issues if you aren't going to do background checks before selling guns?
ayotte wants to be reelected that is why she sided with gun store ability to make money versus the death of the children/adults at sandy hook their death apparently meant nothing to her
What it all boils down to is these senators only worry about themselves and care nothing for the average citizen. They vote based on who can line their pockets and not who gets hurt or killed by their vote. To worry about burden on gun store owners tells me where this senators votes favor. I say send all the senators packing come election time and send a clear message where we as citizens stand!
How involved was this lady in gun control before Newtown? She didn't care beforehand, funny how once it effects you at home you all of a sudden care.
Shame on this daughter.. The freedoms of a whole country are worth far more than the life of her mother. Though it was senseless, this tragedy was not caused by the failure of background checks. This was liberal theater and CNN should give as much attention to Benghazi and Fast and Furious as they do Newton, but they wont because Obama is their baby and they have to save him time after time after time after time. The second Amendment is what protects all of the others from the Tyrant Obama.
Still waiting for someone to explain to me how that gun legislation would have prevented Newtown from happening?