Daughter of Newtown victim confronts senator
April 30th, 2013
07:39 PM ET
10 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.

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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. Rickster

    No one seems to recognize that the Newtown shooter was under age to begin with. Even with the strictest background checks in place, he wouldn't have been able to purchase a firearm.

    That legislation was nothing more than a red herring, a feel good law designed to make us feel that something was being done.

    The Senator recognized this for what it was and cast the right vote. If she were my Senator, I would be voting for her again, despite my liberal tendencies on many issues.

    May 1, 2013 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC


    @Rudy NYC, actually, a Background check would NOT have stopped the Virginia Tech Shooting, or Aurora as the perpetrators did not have criminal records, and were over 18 they could legally purchase weapons.
    Actually, the VT shooter had a history of mental problems and never should have been allowed to purchase a weapon. It was widely discussed in the media. But the NRA lackeys in Congress do not want mental records to be part of the check.

    May 1, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    Peoples State of Illinois wrote:

    Another uninformed lefty voter. You obviously have not read the bill. Try reading it, especially section 122, which would create a defacto registration database.
    So what if it did. Your car is registered for a host of reasons. Gun registration would keep guns away from a lot of people who should not have them. It would also have an impact on the right wings "black market". You do realize that there isn't an actual black market in the US for guns. In order to have a black market on some item, it would have to be illegal to sell the item.

    May 1, 2013 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  4. Get over it!!

    Rudy NYC

    Chris wrote:

    Using kids to sway votes and pressure people into votes? You people make me sick. If you think it's ok to pass laws because a few people died I have news for you...it isn't.
    No one is using kids. Background checks would have stopped the Virginia Tech shooting, along with several others. No one claims that background checks would have stopped the Newtown shootings, except the right wing.

    You are completely full of it buddy, 100s of comments on here from your buddies DO say that background checks would have prevent ALL these mass murders and that is a blatant LIE!!! It would not have prevent ANY of them!!! Just another clueless ignorant liberal (and in case you didn't see my other post, I am NOT republican, just a citizen that like my freedoms to choose!!)!!

    May 1, 2013 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  5. Katie

    To clarify for those who don't understand why background checks are an issue.......they SHOULDN'T be. Many a law abiding US citizen favors background checks in THEORY, but to be clear, they would NOT have stopped the sandy Hook massacre because Adam Lanza was armed ILLEGALLY either way. But my support in THEORY does not extend to this administration, which I do not trust at all. Threatening the press, the Benghazi whistle blowers, the lack of desire to get to the bottom of Benghazi (because his administration was complicit), the continual manipulation of the Sandy Hook parents, Nancy Pelosi admitting that she hadn't read the Affordable Healthcare Act before voting in it because it was sooooo "long." A President whi has forgotten that all three branches of Government are EQUAL and has the audacity to chastise the SCOTUS and Congress.......I don't trust him as far as I can throw him. And I will never trust HIM to change so much as a comma in the 2nd Amendment. That vote wasn't so much a "no" on background checks as it was a "no confidence" in this President and Administration. I am thankful for this obstructionist Congress and keep on top of my Reps so that they remember that they work for me and mine, NOT the President and not the Newtown residents, who at this point need to SHUT UP and GO HOME before they create permanent ill will.

    May 1, 2013 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  6. Pete

    What fact still stands out this young shooter that murdered these kids,adults had a mother psychological issues as well..Neither she nor her son should had no chance to purchase weapons like it or not..As a gun owner,concealed permit owner also I believe in a more extensive back ground searches as well as psychological testing before getting a weapon as dangerous as a gun..But there's a catch because if there is psychological testing many a public sector employee as police won't pass and that's fact in a nut shell..Many are vets who come back from war with many hidden psychological problems and these tests would be more of a hinderence than a help something many police forces don't want to deal with!!

    May 1, 2013 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  7. David Crandall

    The Sandy Hook shooter stole the guns from him mother. He was mentally ill. How would any law help to prevent another shooting? No law will help. Criminals don't buy guns, they steal them.

    May 1, 2013 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  8. Pete

    This poor thing thinking republicans really cared..They were taught to eat their young republicans at birth..People still vote republican being delushional thinking someone in their party will break out and make a difference in this world but don't hold your breath because none of these hypocrites,bigots will do anything helpful and it won't be soon !!

    May 1, 2013 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    It doesn't matter if background checks would have stopped this shooting or that, they might stop psychos and terrorist from committing these kind of atrocities in the future. Why in the world would anyone be for allowing crazies and terrorists to buy guns and ammo at gun shows? Are you people stupid?

    May 1, 2013 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
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