May 1st, 2013
01:31 PM ET
9 years 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. Alan

    The Real Tom Paine – RIGHT ON!'s the low standards that are set for people like Pelosi, Graham and unlike the commercial retirement world requirement of age 65, with McCain. The low standards of qualifying for office. What Toomy and Manchin exhibited, shear courage in working towards the bi-partisan bill in the Senate took me back to the days of Regan, Clinton, when even with the Newt, compromise was accomplished!. There is so much excrement walking around in both houses of congress, people like McConnell and Reid don't realize what's going on until the actual vote and both either then start fillibustering themselves in a panic or like Boehner, just say 'no' and never bring up anything for a vote that hasn't lined his pockets with cold hard cash first.

    May 1, 2013 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    What's wrong with a gun registry, anywaty? It would probably make a major dent in illegal gun sales and trafficking. I should point out that all guns sold in the right wing's "black market" were originally purchased by "Law Abiding Citizens".

    May 1, 2013 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  3. Thomas

    @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.

    Want to play Army? Then join the Army !


    So, you have no problem with limiting US citizens to 10 rounds in any given magazine for any given weapon?

    Just a simple google seach on how many times a cop must fire his/her weapon to kill a suspect turned up this (from "The Police Policy Studies Council" regarding police shootings) –

    "There is a strong relationship between the volume of shots by police and the probability of killing the suspect. In 17 incidents in which police fired three times or less, only two persons died. In 12 incidents in which four or more shots were fired, nine persons died."

    Now suppose you have 2-4 people break into your house and all you have is say a Glock 26 chambered in 9mm with a magazine capacity of 10 rounds. Suppose it takes 4 shots to bring down each attacker, per the information provided above. 4 shots at 4 people might require 16 rounds. So, you would be 6 rounds short and thus a possability of you being dead.

    You can argue, well I am a good shot and I can kill someone with only 1 round. Sure. You bet. Have you ever been in an actual firefight when you are dodging for cover and your adrenalin is pumping through your body? It takes much practice and experiance to engage your target in such a situation. Thus, you will most likely either miss the first shot you take or hit the person in a non-vital area such as a leg, arm or buttocks.

    Then, if you add the slight possability that you might have a Failure to Fire (FTF), Failure to Eject (FTE) or your magazine fails to properly push the next round up so that the weapon can chamber a new round..........that adds to the problem at hand.

    Now, not everyone is going ot have to face multiple bad guys/gals at one time. But, what happens if you must? What happens if an entire gang breaks down your door to rape and pillage your family and belongings? What if it is pitch black, you cant see your targets, and are just blindly shooting? Those 10 rounds you have will go by pretty fast.

    And about your point about joining the Army if you want to play Army. Sure, that sounds cute and all........... But, I actually did join the Army as you can see from my "name" on the posting. I have deployed multiple times to Iraq and have been in some really bad firefights. I know what happens when bad guys are comming after you. I know what happens when the bullets start flying. I know what happens to weapons at the most inoportune time (jams are just the begining).

    Additonally, STANDARD CAPACITY magazines for AR-15's are 30 rounds. RESTRICTED CAPACITY magazines are those less than 30 (usually 10 round magazine for California and New York, etc).

    The STANDARD CAPACITY magazine for my SIG 9mm is 15 rounds. Sure, they also sell a RESTRICTED CAPACITY magazine that holds 10 rounds, but I dont live in a nanny state and thus am able to use my 15 rounders.

    The issue at hand is not guns. The issue is PEOPLE. A PERSON must CHOOSE to use a gun in a manner in which it will KILL another person.

    A gun is just a tool. Just like the recent Boston bombing (explosives) and the Ricin laced letters (poison), or the recent church stabbing (knife)...........if a person wants to kill or injure someone, they can use any tool. It doesnt have to be a gun.

    The real problem is mental health. If you do not address that, there will continue to be more mass shootings/stabbings/bombings. Arbitrary gun laws will do nothing.

    None of the gun laws that were voted down would have stopped Sandy Hook. That is all there is to it. Nor would they stop the next shooting. You cannot legislate the human mind away. If you take guns away, guess what? Only the bad guys will have them.


    Is your office on K Street ?

    May 1, 2013 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  4. rs

    Just like with the Affordable Healthcare Bill, this background check bill has loads of other provisions, THAT IS WHY IT got shot down.
    The bill got "shot" down because:
    The Republcians filibustered it requiring a 60% super-majority to pass. It beat the "normal" 50% mark easily.
    It also lost because the NRA threatened every Senator with a reduction of their NRA A+ Guns for everyone rating.

    Face it- the Republicans are the best party special interests can buy.

    The battle ain't over.

    May 1, 2013 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    "The issue at hand is not guns. The issue is PEOPLE."

    Indeed. Gun nuts are people too, my friend...crazy, deluded, paranoid people with ridiculous ideas in their heads about how the world turns. Gonna be a militia hero freedumb fighter...defend the neighborhood from bad my family from 5 armed intruders all by myself...turtles all the way down...

    May 1, 2013 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  6. rs

    The bottom line is that giving up freedoms and privacy for no reasonable gain in safety is bad policy and the Senate voted rationally.
    And one day, when someone you care about is murdered by someone with a gun, you might realize just how high a price that suppossed "freedom" is.

    Nothing is worth the life of 22 first-graders.

    May 1, 2013 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  7. Homer Simpson

    Too bad the dems did not offer a very straight, uninvasive option, the gop will not have a leg to stand on if you did. they will hang themselves given the chance

    May 1, 2013 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    "The oft-quoted "90%" who support background checks answered broad survey questions about whether we need them in general, they had nothing to do with the details of this law."

    Wrong. Starting your argument by deliberately mischaracterizing the argument you are arguing against is an old, cheap and dishonest trick. Try again.

    May 1, 2013 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  9. Virginia

    When one of theirs is shot down like a dog then they (politicans) will be passing a law pronto.

    May 1, 2013 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  10. rs

    I also noted that this article did little to mention the ones who voted the other way who will see ramifications for this as well
    probably because there is no data to support that.
    Look, if in gun-nut Arizona Jeff Flake is now the least popular Senator because of his vote- that says the public -even in Arizona really wanted background checks. Probably because in this state, our liberal gun laws are what is arming the cartels- and guns can be had for cash at gun shows, no questions asked.

    May 1, 2013 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  11. lottie

    keep the pressure on . Most Americans are getting tired of these crazy gun nuts. Not everyone that owns a gun is stupid like some of the more vocal nut jobs.

    May 1, 2013 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  12. PaulG

    'Nothing is worth the life of 22 first-graders.'
    Hand over your own freedoms thanks, I'll be keeping mine.

    May 1, 2013 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  13. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." Unfortunately, without their guns conservatives are very fearful of their own shadow! Land of the free and home of the brave? Ha.

    May 1, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  14. Rudy NYC

    J Hansen

    The oft-quoted "90%" who support background checks answered broad survey questions about whether we need them in general, they had nothing to do with the details of this law. In fact, of the people who read it, including Democrats who voted against it, it's generally disliked. Why is it disliked? It aims to force private citizens to report sales of currently unregistered guns amongst themselves (hence the creation of a gun registry), gives the government access to HIPAA protected health records, and essentially puts gun shows out of business.
    How do you stop illegal gun trafficking on a black market? You make it illegal to sell the weapons to criminals. How would you suggest that these types of sales be stopped?

    May 1, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  15. jerry

    No gun laws will ever stop crazy people from killing. No gun laws will ever stop crazy people from getting guns. They won't go to a gun shop they go to the black market where you can buy anything for the right price. Or there local drug dealer. That's not right but that's just the way is.

    May 1, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  16. Homer Simpson

    If your arguement needs dishonest statements, and outright lies,, then you should be respectful enough to just not blog, what that says about your mental state should alarm you, not suprised that it does not

    May 1, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  17. 2012liberal

    Main point n sandy hook wasnt background check. It's the assault weapons ban being lifted. If it was made perm or extended adam would have been able 2 massacure the numbers he did. And ya we probably wouldnt of even had fast and furious started under bush. Most the murders and cartels wouldnt b happening at the pace they r, no thanks 2 our lack of regulation!

    May 1, 2013 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  18. J Hansen

    I was thinking that we should probably outlaw murder and assault. Then we wouldn't need gun laws because people would be prevented from committing these crimes. Even criminals follow laws, right?

    May 1, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  19. bg_checker

    I wonder if this young lady (Erica) feels that a thorough background check on the mother of the shooter would have saved those victims of the shooting? Unless they are going to regulate who you choose to GIVE your weapons to (which is impossible), the background check isn't really going to do anything.

    May 1, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
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