May 1st, 2013
01:31 PM ET
12 months ago

Gun vote follows senators home

(CNN) – It was a tense moment on an emotionally charged topic: the daughter of the slain principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School asking Sen. Kelly Ayotte why, in mid-April, she voted against bolstering background checks on gun sales.

"I'm just wondering why the burden of my mother being gunned down in the halls of her elementary school isn't as important" as inconveniencing gun sellers, asked Erica Lafferty, daughter of Dawn Hochsprung.

If it looked like a made for television moment, it should. Lafferty was sent to Ayotte's event by the organization Mayors Against Illegal Guns, one of several gun control groups using this week's Congressional recess to bring the gun control message to the states.

The April 17 defeat of a bipartisan measure expanding background checks to gun shows and internet sales was seen as a major blow to gun control efforts, which began after the Newtown shooting in December that left 26 people dead. The new gun laws are a major initiative of President Barack Obama's second term.

After the vote, Obama called out senators who opposed the background checks bill, suggesting they were ignoring the will of the people who elected them.

Noting polls that showed 90% support for such a measure, Obama called it a "pretty shameful day for Washington" and wondered of Congress: "Who are we here to represent?"

WATCH: Erica Lafferty will appear Wednesday night on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," starting at 8 p.m. ET.

But while he vowed to continue pressing for tighter controls on guns, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid ultimately shelved the gun control legislation without bringing it to a final vote.

However, there are discussions among senators to revive gun legislation, multiple sources say. One Senate source said even Ayotte is "willing to consider alternatives" to the background checks measure.

Senate Democratic leadership sources say they are willing to return to the gun issue, but only if they come up with legislation that is guaranteed to pass. Outside groups sending advocates to senators' events and running ads may help get there.

Those groups hope pressure from constituents will help fuel another go at gun control. Ayotte, who represents a state that voted for Obama in November and whose four other statewide representatives are Democrats, has been a particular target.

The group founded by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband began airing radio ads accusing Ayotte of "ignoring the will of the people."

A spot from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns takes a similar approach, charging Ayotte with giving "criminals a pass" – a hard blow for the former state attorney general who ran largely on her tough-on-crime record.

And Organizing for Action, the political outlet formed from Obama's presidential campaign, took out ads online encouraging supporters to "Remind Senator Ayotte: You work for New Hampshire, not the gun lobby."

That gun lobby happens to be on the air in New Hampshire as well, praising Ayotte for her "no" vote on background checks. The National Rifle Association's radio spot thanks the senator for her "courage to oppose misguided gun control laws that would not have prevented Sandy Hook."

A survey conducted by a pro-Democratic polling firm indicated a drop in support for Ayotte after her vote against the background checks provision, along with other senators who opposed the measure. One, Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, wrote on Facebook earlier this week his new approval rating "probably puts me somewhere just below pond scum."

"It was a popular amendment, and I voted against it," Flake wrote. He'll be the subject of a protest organized by Bloomberg's group on Thursday, when survivors of gun violence will gather at his Phoenix office to demand a face-to-face meeting discussing the vote.

The poll also indicated a drop in support for other opponents of the bill, including Alaska's Mark Begich, one of the four Democrats from pro-gun states who sided with most Republicans in opposition.

Another one of those Democrats, Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, will soon be the subject of a television spot from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee that features a woman detailed her harrowing experience of hiding from an armed intruder.

"I hid my girls in a closet, called for help, aimed my handgun at the door and waited," Claire Kelly of Stevensville, Montana, says in the ad. "Guns can protect us but we're less safe with guns in the wrong hands."

The group said Wednesday they'll spend $50,000 to air the spot in Montana – even though Baucus announced in April he won't seek re-election in 2014.

"Another vote will happen in the Senate," Adam Green, PCCC's co-founder, said. "Max Baucus needs to choose whether he stands with the overwhelming majority of Montanans who support background checks or the gun manufacturers that profit by selling guns to criminals."

The ad isn't the only effort to highlight Baucus' vote. Bloomberg's group organized a "shame on you" rally at the senator's office in Bozeman shortly after the vote, part of a national effort to loudly protest senators who helped defeat the measure.

Mayors Against Illegal Guns will also send the father of a Newtown victim to Arkansas Thursday to attend a public event held by Sen. Mark Pryor, a Democrat who voted "no" on background checks and is up for re-election next year.

Meanwhile, national polling still indicates a desire for extending background checks on gun sales. Nearly two-thirds of Americans said in a Gallup survey out Monday that the Senate should have passed the measure in mid-April.

But the survey indicated a partisan divide, with Democrats and independent voters not seeing eye-to-eye with Republicans.

Prior to the Senate's failure to pass the proposal, most national polling indicated that nearly nine in 10 Americans supported expanded background checks for gun sales.

CNN's Dana Bash, Ashley Killough and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.


Filed under: Gun control • Kelly Ayotte • Max Baucus
soundoff (94 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    "Ayotte, whose New Hampshire constituency has become less Republican in recent years, explained that instead of creating new laws, the current regulations need to be better enforced."
    ----------------
    Problem with that is simple. There are no federal laws on the books to better enforced. The only gun trafficking laws that exist are at the state level. Ayotte, and others like her, simply want to maintain the status quo, one which makes it easy for criminals and terrorists to obtain weapons.

    Besides, if they really want better enforcement, then why is it they don't support increasing funding to do it? They've cut it.

    May 1, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  2. Bill

    Ayotte was a one-term senator even before this vote. Now she will certainly be removed after the next election.

    May 1, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  3. Larry L

    Selling your soul for pieces of silver has consequences... I hope Senator Ayotte and the others who backed down the the gun lobby struggle to sleep each night with the vision of bullets striking helpless little children flashing through their heads. Background checks absolutely would stop some significant percentage of crazies from obtaining weapons.

    May 1, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  4. Debbie

    Ayotte sold her soul to the highest bidder. First graders don't have money to buy votes only corporate citizens.

    May 1, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  5. The NRA is a T e r r o r i st organisation....and do you know why Rush Limbaugh doesn't have guest in his show? Because he's a Blowhard who can't debate the issue

    "Gun sales man" and Big Gun Manufacturers / the lobbyist NRA are far more important to this dimwit Kelly Ayotte's vote than the lives of the innocent babies & children killed at Sandy Hook!!

    CHA...followed by CHING...in Kelly Ayotte's campaign pocket or purse....milking the blood of the innocent!

    Way to go Lady!!!

    May 1, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  6. Thomas

    A Kentucky mother stepped outside of her home just for a few minutes, but it was long enough for her 5-year-old son to accidentally shoot his 2-year-old sister with the .22-caliber rifle he got for his birthday, state officials said.
    Little Caroline Starks died Tuesday in Burkesville, in southern Kentucky.

    Ayotte sold her soul to the gun lobby , laws will never change until tragedy effects politicians such as Ayotte personally .

    Why dose a five year old need a 22 riffle ?
    Ask Ayotte !

    May 1, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  7. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House

    You senators have hell to pay next November. I actually hope Harry Reid keeps the bill on the shelf. There will be no redemption for the votes you made!!!

    May 1, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  8. California

    Anonymous

    @California

    Pelosi is a perfect example of what's wrong with this country.
    =====================
    What's wrong with this country is a radical, obnoxious gaggle of fearful, narrow-minded, right-wing bigots who get all of their distorted viewpoints and mindless conspiracies from hate media. You spend all of your time desperately working each issue to find fault with the political opposition rather than trying to help America.
    ----
    While you obviously have zero regard for the country. Your ME ME ME attitude is pathetic at best. Grow up already.

    May 1, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  9. DEMOCRATS = ANTI-BILL OF RIGHTS = ANTI AMERICAN

    It's a shame that democrats can't see the truth.

    One thing for sure is that Obama is fundamentally changing this country and the blind followers are just as much part of the problem now.

    May 1, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  10. rs

    The GOP turned its back on 90% of the population and know they're taking heat for doing deals with the blood-soaked NRA. Its good to see them squirm at least a little bit for their actions.

    Meanwhile they whine about "enforcing the laws already on the books". Brilliant- except for the exceptions in background checks the NRA already created- the gunshow and internet lookholes. We need law to fill those. As to the other existing laws- like inspecting gun store records- well it is convenient that the GOP keeps filibustering the nominee for the BATF, and they dramaitcally cut their funds. Its hard to enforce the laws when you attack the agency- but hey, that's how the GOP rolls, I guess.

    May 1, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  11. DEMOCRATS = ANTI-BILL OF RIGHTS = ANTI AMERICAN

    Federal government approves of arming the Mexican drug cartel (fast & Furious) while disarming American citizens.

    THANKS OBAMA.

    May 1, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  12. Durundal

    Lets be honest to each other: the current legislation does not lend itself to 'taking our guns' – that is conspiracy hype sold by the NRA, and a petty marketing tactic at that. Criminals largely stick to 'capping' each other so the context of 'home defense' is largely bunk (as is the wild west/James Bond fantasy some people seem to be trying to recreate). People argue that they could just get them illegally, but how many people actually have the connections – this is not like going to 'walmart' (and for the few who do know the how and where, you are part of the problem). I would wager that current proposals are trying to do is to prevent fools from getting firearms. The unspoken subtext on this would seem to be that most people here would qualify. The next time someone runs their mouth how they could be used to stop tragedies from occurring, look them in the face and remember them- in a bad situation they are statistically more likely to panic and not draw, be the first ones to be jumped, or unload on the wrong people

    May 1, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  13. ghostriter

    Funny, when republicans went full throttle to racially profile US citizens looking for illegal immigrants, they were all for it. Now that we realize that we have some terrorists that are European, I wonder if they will introduce a bill checking the papers of those who fit that description.

    May 1, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  14. ghostriter

    RS, the GOP has pretty much neutered the ATF. Then they complain that the President isn't doing enough.

    Haven't we seen this play out several times over the past 5 years? Vote against additional funding for diplomatic security and then blame the President when a diplomat dies. Vote against the Presidents' ideas for economic growth and then complain about the lack of economic growth.

    May 1, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    "Why dose a five year old need a 22 riffle ?"

    You're kidding right? Gun manufacturers literally make and market rifles to children all the way down to the age of 4 or 5. No joke. Don't believe me? Google it. Look up things like Keystone Arms' Crickett that comes in several "kid-pleasing" colors.

    May 1, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  16. 82ndABNVET

    The background bill would not have stopped what happened at Sandy Hook.

    You need to focus more on mental health issues.

    What have all the recent shootings had in common (Sandy Hook, Tuscon, Aurora, VT college)? Mental health.

    Why have "gun free zones" in the first place? Criminals do not follow laws. Therefore, they will be the ONLY ones with guns in such places. Movie theaters, malls, shopping centers, and SCHOOLS are EASY TARGETS for someone to go in and kill dozens of people.

    You cant just sit there and wait 5-30 minutes until law enforcement arrives to get their crap together and then go in and confront the shooter. You will be dead by then.

    Only someone that has the proper training and has passed the proper background checks and licencing, and able to carry a concealed weapon can stop a shooter before the police arive.

    Most mall cops have little more than a radio and pepper spray. Pepper spray is only good if you are within 15 ft or closer of the person. A gun allows you to stop the shooter before you are within his/her kill zone.

    And if you want all guns banned...........guess what? The criminals are not going to just give their guns to the police because all of the sudden guns are against the law. They will be the only ones with them.

    If you are afraid of guns...........fine, I dont want you near them. But dont try and tell me what kind of weapon I can and cannot use just because you think they look scary, or you dont understand what each type of weapon is actually capable of. If you dont understand firearm terminology, stay out of the conversation. Educate yourself first. Piers Morgan needs to learn that lesson. An AR-15 is not an automatic weapon. An AR-15 is not the most deadly weapon in the world. AR-15's are only used in roughly ~3% of all firearm related homicides in this country each year. Handguns are responsible for over ~70%.

    May 1, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  17. DEMOCRATS = ANTI-BILL OF RIGHTS = ANTI AMERICAN

    $6 Trillion added to the debt and counting Obama.

    You've CLEARLY set the record EASILY. Democrats LOVE ignoring that fact.

    May 1, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  18. The Real Tom Paine

    -California

    Anonymous

    @California

    Pelosi is a perfect example of what's wrong with this country.
    =====================
    What's wrong with this country is a radical, obnoxious gaggle of fearful, narrow-minded, right-wing bigots who get all of their distorted viewpoints and mindless conspiracies from hate media. You spend all of your time desperately working each issue to find fault with the political opposition rather than trying to help America.
    --
    While you obviously have zero regard for the country. Your ME ME ME attitude is pathetic at best. Grow up already.
    ********************
    And you extrapolated a ME ME ME attitude from someone who spelled out why the Right is incapable of helping this country, only its special interest lobbies that bully and cow an huge number of elected officials into doing their bidding? You are the one with the disdain for the country and the people in it. You were babbling yesterday about the sancity of life, yet you dismiss someone else's concerns as selfish? Grow up, or better yet, leave.

    May 1, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  19. Alan

    Politicians without an excuse aren't Politicians. They are artists in 'the shell game'. Want them to commit to a vote on one issue and strike them like a squirrel head popping out of a game at Chuckie Cheese, then another pops up at another location, like Ayotte's excuse saying I voted no because existing laws need to be enforce. Before the CNN media attention then pivots to the issue of enforcement of existing gun laws, and this poor lady in her grief realizes there are no existing full background check laws, which was the reason for the vote in the first place...the door on the elevator carrying Ayotte is closed...this is a poor state of affairs...please remember her answer come time for your next vote!

    May 1, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  20. Peoples State of Illinois

    @rs

    The GOP turned its back on 90% of the population and know they're taking heat for doing deals with the blood-soaked NRA. Its good to see them squirm at least a little bit for their actions
    ----------------------
    As usual, you leave out the fact that 90% you are so fond of quoting, falls to well below 50% when the gun registration and tracking data bases, part of the question is asked. That is why you have no credibility.

    May 1, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  21. GI Joe

    She kisses the back side of Graham and McCain. Shame on her.

    May 1, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  22. WouldYouLookAtThat

    RudyNYC wrote:
    Problem with that is simple. There are no federal laws on the books to better enforced. The only gun trafficking laws that exist are at the state level. Ayotte, and others like her, simply want to maintain the status quo, one which makes it easy for criminals and terrorists to obtain weapons.
    ----------------------------------------
    Ignorance is bliss, eh, Rudy? They could start enforcing current laws more by prosecuting a larger percentage of those who fail background checks... but that wouldn't fit your agenda, now would it?

    May 1, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  23. sonny chapman

    Gun Rights folks are the biggest babies in the world. I'm a hunter & believe in the right to own a 10 shot pistol for protection from real, not imaginary dangers. The proposed legislation, Assault Weapons Ban & magazine limit would not affect ANY of those "Rights". You're not the only ones in this Country w/RIGHTS. Non gun owners & Sane Gun Owners have the right to TRY & live in a world where Sandy Hook, Aurora & Tuscon is LESS LIKELY to happen. Back Ground Checks? So SORRY it's such a major inconvenience to Gun Dealers. Maybe they could sacrifice a little more to justify the huge PROFITS they're making during this GUN/Ammo shopping Run by these BRAVE Patriots. Want to play Army? Then join the Army !

    May 1, 2013 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  24. DEMOCRATS = ANTI-BILL OF RIGHTS = ANTI AMERICAN

    Anyone against those ASSULT PRESSURE COOKERS yet?

    May 1, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  25. The Real Tom Paine

    Its amazing to watch the responses posted on here. The righties can't argue with the right of someone to ask the Senator why they voted to kill legislation that was bipartisan in nature, so they attack other posters in here as being selfish, having a ME ME ME attitude, and not caring about the country: how is asking why we feel the need to hoard guns a selfish act? Only the most deluded, paranoid nut can believe the excrement the NRA flung at the wall, but, enough of it stuck to frighten Senators into voting against something that people want. What happened to serving the country? Out the window, as long as the checks keep coming in. Pelosi is not the problem, a lack of courage is.

    May 1, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
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