Families of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting are making good on their promise to keep the issue of gun control alive even after the failure of new legislation in Congress. New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte, who was one of the key votes against the bill to expand back groundchecks, became the target of protesters yesterday as she went out in public to defend her position.
In an emotionally charged moment at a town hall in Warren, Ayotte took a question from Erica Lafferty, the daughter of Dawn Hochsprung, who was the principal of Sandy Hook and one of the first victims to be shot and killed at the school last December.
At Ayotte's townhalls, questions are drawn from a stack of cards where those who want to ask something have put their name and the topic they want to talk about. In order to ensure she got picked, Lafferty said she wanted to talk about education, then explained her connection to education and gun violence. She asked Ayotte:
"You had mentioned that day the burden on owners of gun stores that the expanded background checks would harm. 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 continued to defend her vote, saying that background checks were not part of the issue with the Newtown shooting, and turned instead to the issue of mental health, saying "I understand that's what drove this whole discussion -- all of us want to make sure that doesn't happen again." When the Senator was finished speaking, Lafferty angrily stormed out of the hall, saying "I had had enough."
To her credit, Ayotte was prepared for the deluge of gun-control protesters, opening her town hall presentations with a discussion of her vote on the background check bill. Ayotte won't be up for relection until 2016, but she's already being targeted by ads and protests aimed at punishing those legislators who voted against the bill. And Lafferty was not the only one to challenge her on Tuesday. Before she spoke, another man got up to complain about the question selection process, shouting that the town hall was better regulated than guns are. He was eventually shouted down by Ayotte's supporters. At another event later in the day, advocates from Michael Bloomberg's group "Mayors Against Illegal Guns" shouted and waved signs in protests.