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

    Let's see: the Newtown killer didn't buy his guns, he committed MURDER to STEAL them, thus breaking two laws before getting to the school. He then broke another law by bringing the guns ILLEGALLY onto school property. He forced his way into the school, breaking another law. He then committed multiple other murders (more violations of the law) before finally breaking another law by committing suicide. Could Ms. Lafferty please explain how violating legal gun owners rights would have stopped his crimes?

    I grieve for her and her town, but bad laws that punish only good people are not the correct response.

    April 30, 2013 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  2. BobJackson

    The only answer needed in response to the town's outrage is that enhanced background checks would not have prevented the Sandy Hook incident. If you have a fox breaking into your chicken house and eating your birds, you don't grab your rifle, shoot the neighbor's dog, and assume you've protected your chickens. No, you address the problem, and background checks would not have addressed this problem. I'm not suggesting what measure would have – or that anything could have – prevented that awful day; but dumping energy and resources into an action that doesn't address the root of the problem is wasteful, shortsighted, and ineffective.

    April 30, 2013 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  3. californiaAC

    Bottom line, the senator has no valid excuse... she bowed to the NRA PERIOD!

    April 30, 2013 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  4. Jim g

    Another thoughtless, special interest Senator that did not represent her constituents. Bought and paid for,

    April 30, 2013 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  5. CHDFW

    I have to side with the senator

    April 30, 2013 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  6. Matt_b_218

    Just goes to show that our representatives represent big business and donations over the people that put them their. You can always tell where someones loyalties lay by following the money.

    April 30, 2013 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  7. gen81465

    Lafferty is quoted as saying, “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,” Sadly, there wasn't anything a background check would have done to prevent this tragedy. The (alleged) sole perpetrator, Adam Lanza, STOLE the guns. Were we really expecting him to take them to a dealer to ask for a background check? Laws like this are only designed to punish the law abiding for the crimes of the law breakers; only the law abiding will "abide" by the laws. It comes from our nation's bloodlust desire to see someone, ANYONE, get punished for a crime; even if it's the wrong person.

    April 30, 2013 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  8. bkgrandma

    Ayotte is a typical republican double talking senator. If she was really concerned about mental health she would have voted for backgroung checks so they couldn't buy guns. I think she is just saying she wants to work across the aisle
    on that measure because she thinks it will get her votes. Hopefully she will get voted out by the intelligent people who want gun control.

    April 30, 2013 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    An utter discrace

    April 30, 2013 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  10. Andy Wahl

    Laws passed out of emotional outrage are often the most ill-considered. A lack of laws did not kill Lafferty's mother. A mentally ill young man who murdered his own mother and took her guns did. He was never and would never have been subject to a background check; he wasn't buying a gun. He stole them. Ms Lafferty is trying to give her mother's death meaning. I get that. But there IS no meaning. That is why they call it senseless. Taking out her grief on our legislators may feel better to her in her search for meaning, but she isn't doing anyone else any favors. This is all about her, her grief, and her desire to give meaning to a senseless act.

    April 30, 2013 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  11. duke

    And yet, the bill proposed would NOT have likely stopped the deranged shooter from getting access to those weapons. So, the burden on the families would still exists, while the burden on law abiding gun owners and retailers would increase.

    April 30, 2013 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  12. Pat

    Why can't the Repukes just be honest for a change and admit that they're bought off by the NRA?

    April 30, 2013 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  13. Kaye

    Senator Ayotte could have at least had the guts to answer the question. Why is it that the burden on Ms. Lafferty's mother was not as important to Senator Ayotte as that of the people peddling these weapons of mass destruction? I will tell you why. Because it is likely that Ms. Hochsprung did not have the resources available, as a public school employee, to write a big fat check to Senator Ayotte, as I am sure the NRA and the gun manufacturers did or have promised to do. Shame on you Senator Ayotte!

    April 30, 2013 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  14. Jon D

    The answers to Ms. Leaf ferry are plentiful and easy: because the bill was to effect a gun and health registration database; it was far more than the so called universal backgound checks as propagandized by the media and democrats; background checks had nothing to do with and would not have prevented Sandy Hook; and in fact the current background check system in CT, one of the toughest in the US, actually worked- Adam Anza tried to buy a firearm weeks prior and was denied, he stole the weapons he used from a negligent and irresponsible family member. THAT IS WHY. Perhaps someone should ask Ms. Lafferty why she continues to waive the bloody shirts of those victims, to propagandize the deaths of her mother and innocent children, and perhaps why she ignores the hard truths about what happened, and why every US citizen should lose a fundamental constitutional right or have it further limited due to the actions of aforesaid madman and negligent parent? Answer THAT, Ms. Lafferty. Her mother being murdered with an illegal weapon makes her no more of an expert or valued opinion on the second amendment, than does me having fillings make me

    April 30, 2013 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  15. IvotedforObama

    The GOP will look mighty stupid WHEN, not if, the next mass shooting occurs. All the blame will be pointed at them and the NRA.

    April 30, 2013 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  16. Floyd

    No matter what the background process is, the killings at Newtown would not have been avoided. The killer DID NOT own the firearms. He stole them. Sorry this is a very tragic event but criminals do not buy guns legally.

    April 30, 2013 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  17. JJ

    Republicans are all immoral loozers.

    April 30, 2013 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  18. Heebeejeebee

    Cowards. The US Senate is full of cowards.

    April 30, 2013 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  19. Mitch

    This is pathetic, CNN. Stop. Just... Stop pretending that this is journalism. I used to trust you as a news source, and I feel like a complete fool for buying into this sham, this propaganda, masquerading as news.

    April 30, 2013 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  20. Axel123

    Dear Ms Laferty,

    We all as a nation fell sad about Sandy Hook however background checks would not have prevented this as you know the firearms used were purchased by the boy's mother legally with background checks. Also as you learned from recent Boston events criminals can use most anything as a weapon for murder. Expanding the background checks will only hinder law abiding citizens, criminals don't purchase weapons legally. If you want to stop senseless murder you have to cure the motivation / desire to vomit such acts not the tools as almost any everyday item can be turned into a murder weapon. Everyone feels sorry about Sandy Hook and are sorry for your loss that goes for firearm owners too.

    April 30, 2013 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  21. Pizza

    If more guns really meant less crime, there wouldn't be metal detectors in government buildings. Our representatives are cowards.

    Terrorists don't have to pass background checks . . . . and they call themselves "patriots" ?

    They terminated the assault weapons ban after Columbine. No telling what protection we will lose next.

    April 30, 2013 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  22. Deb in MT

    "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 ..." Ayotte
    O.K. There are people out there that are so mentally unstable hat they shouldn't have access to guns, sooo...let's veto an expanded background check that would have a greater chance of identifying those mentally unstable individuals and maybe finding a felon or two! That makes no sense.

    Good for Erica Lafferty for confronting the Ayotte idiot over her reprehensible vote to allow more convicted felons, terrorists and violent mentally ill people to be able to avoid those pesky background checks. I wish every one of those weenie Senators who voted 'no' could be confronted at every meeting by someone who has been a victim of gun violence in this gun worshipping culture of ours.

    April 30, 2013 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  23. wildernessyes

    Shame on this Senator, shame on republicans. Just terrible.

    April 30, 2013 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  24. Katy

    Really...really? Ms. Ayotte?

    April 30, 2013 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  25. bs1

    The senator voted against the legislation because 57%+ of the population is against it, and that percentage was reported on left leaning NPR. Sorry for your loss, but emotion can never be allowed to override rational thought, and no "gun control" will ever prevent a deranged person from committing mass murders.

    April 30, 2013 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
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