Daughter Of Newtown Victim Confronts Ayotte Over Gun Check Vote

AP

The daughter of Sandy Hook Elementary School principal and shooting victim Dawn Hochsprung confronted Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) over her vote against expanding gun background checks at a town hall in Warren, N.H. on Tuesday.

“You had mentioned that day you voted, owners of gun stores that the expanded background checks would harm,” Erica Lafferty said, according to NBC News. “I am just wondering why the burden of my mother being gunned down in the halls of her elementary school isn’t more important than that.”

Ayotte responded: “Erica, I, certainly let me just say – I’m obviously so sorry.” 

“And, um, I think that ultimately when we look at what happened in Sandy Hook, I understand that’s what drove this whole discussion — all of us want to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” Ayotte said.

Ayotte defended her vote at the top of her remarks, pointing to her background as a prosecutor. “Where we are right now, my focus has been on wanting to improve our current background check system,” she said. “Frankly, we have fallen down on actually prosecuting gun crimes and violations of our current background check system.”

Unsatisfied with Ayotte’s answer, Lafferty “stood and stormed out” of the town hall. “I had had enough,” she said.

The nation’s top gun lobby, the National Rifle Association, and the National Shooting Sports Foundation each began running radio ads on Monday in New Hampshire thanking Ayotte for opposing legislation that would have expanded background checks on firearm purchases.

“She knows the only way to prevent tragedies like Sandy Hook is to fix our broken mental health system,” the NRA ad’s narrator said. “That’s why Kelly Ayotte brought Republicans and Democrats together on a bipartisan solution. And it’s why Kelly had the courage to oppose misguided gun-control laws that would not have prevented Sandy Hook.”

As with other senators who opposed the Manchin-Toomey amendment, Ayotte’s public standing suffered after the vote. In addition, 50 percent of New Hampshire voters are now less likely to vote for Ayotte in 2016, according to a PPP poll released last week. The poll found that 75 percent of the state’s voters support requiring background checks for buyers at gun shows, a provision written in the bill.

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Igor Bobic is the assistant editor of Talking Points Memo, helping oversee the site's coverage of politics and policy in Washington. While originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Igor feels best at home on the beaches of Southern California. He can be reached at igor@talkingpointsmemo.com.
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