Newtown Principal’s Daughter Confronts Sen. Kelly Ayotte At Town Hall

Kim LaCapria - Author

Aug. 23 2017, Updated 1:45 a.m. ET

In an awkward confrontation during a town hall meeting, the daughter of Newtown principal Dawn Hochsprung, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in December in an attempt to thwart gunman Adam Lanza, took Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) to task over her anti-background checks stance.

Hochsprung was one of the massacre’s first victims, believed to have charged Lanza unarmed in the hopes he would be unable to harm any of her students, and she and a fellow staffer died trying to protect the children.

Erica Lafferty drove four hours from Connecticut to speak with Ayotte at the sometimes-tense town hall meeting. After several attendees reportedly called on Ayotte to allow Lafferty to speak, the woman queried the Republican senator on her position against background checks.

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Lafferty pressed:

“You had mentioned that day the burden on the owners of gun stores that the expanded background checks would cause. I’m just wondering why the burden of my mother being gunned down in the halls of her elementary school isn’t as important?”

Ayotte began:

“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.”

The senator defended her decision, saying that background checks would not have prevented the 27 murders in Newtown that day, adding:

“What we need to do is focus on mental health, ultimately. But I understand and respect that you have a different viewpoint.”

Later, Ayotte remarked:

“I took a lot of heat, I will say, from even members of my own party that didn’t like the fact that I voted to go to debate on this issue. We can have strong disagreements, but ultimately everything should be debated and discussed. And I’ll continue to do that.”

After the tense exchange with Sen. Ayotte on background checks, Lafferty left the meeting in frustration, explaining she “had had enough.”


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