Sen. Ayotte Confronted by Daughter of Newtown Victim over Gun Control (VIDEO)
By Charlie Connell | May 01, 2013 10:40 AM EDT
New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte was confronted during a town hall meeting by Erica Lafferty over Ayotte's vote that helped scuttle the recent gun control bill in Washington. Lafferty's mother was one of the 27 victims in the Newtown shooting.
Ayotte has become a target of anti-gun groups since voting against expanded background checks. In her first return to her home state since the vote Ayotte hosted a town hall of about 150 people.
After 45 minutes, Ayotte had only answered one question related to guns and the crowd was starting to become agitated, according to The New York Times.
"You like to regulate that," Eric Knuffke, 72, yelled, irate over the questions that were being answered. "But you don't want to regulate guns."
In order to placate the crowd, Ayotte turned to Lafferty. Lafferty's question started by referencing comments Ayotte had made in Congress.
"You had mentioned on that day the burden on gun owners that expanded background checks would harm," Lafferty said. "I'm just wondering why the burden of my mother being gunned down in the halls of her elementary school isn't as important."
Taken aback by the question Ayotte grew very quiet before answering.
"Erica, certainly let me first say, obviously, I'm so sorry," Ayotte said before going on to defend her vote. "As you and I both know, the issue wasn't a background check system issue at Sandy Hook. Mental health, I hope, is the one thing we can agree on going forward."
After the response Lafferty left the meeting in a hurry telling NBC News she "had had enough."
The Republican from New Hampshire has been under immense pressure and scrutiny from both gun control supporters and foes since the contentious vote. Supporters of gun control see Ayotte as a possible ally who could be convinced to change her mind on the issue. Similarly, groups like the NRA see Ayotte as a vote they need to keep in order to avoid further regulation.
A group run by former Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords called Americans for Responsible Solutions has been running a radio ad in New Hampshire aimed at Ayotte.
"Are you serious?" the ad says. "89 percent of the people of New Hampshire support universal background checks. She just ignored us?"
It's clear that the issue will be a key one for Ayotte going forward. The Senator has scheduled a series of Town Hall meetings while in her home state but has done very little to publicize them, according to The New York Times.