TILTON, NH — The daughter of the elementary school principal who died during the Sandy Hook shooting walked out of a town hall with Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) on Tuesday after the event erupted in chaos over the lawmaker’s answer to a question about gun regulations. Ayotte was one of 46 senators to vote down a bipartisan proposal to expand background checks to gun shows and online purchases.
Erica Lafferty left in frustration as Ayotte attempted to answer a question about framing the gun safety debate as a public health crisis. The first-term senator began saying that she would concentrate on “criminal activity with guns” before Zandra Rice Hawkins, a member of the group Granite State Progress, interrupted and asked, “So why do you let them get the guns in the first place?”
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The question led to a round of booing and cross argumentation between gun safety activists and Ayotte supporters in the room. Lafferty walked out as other proponents of stricter gun laws held up signs reading “shame on you.”
After the event was over, Hawkins attempted to approach Ayotte to ask if she would hold a town hall about gun violence. But she was shoved away by a large man who did not appear to be a law enforcement official. ThinkProgress asked a local sheriff who was attending the event if the man was in fact a police officer and the sheriff dodged the question, saying only “he has the right to be here.”
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At an earlier town hall, Lafferty directly confronted Ayotte over her vote. “You had mentioned that the burden to owners of gun stores that these expanded background checks would cause,” Lafferty said. “I’m just wondering why the burden of my mother being gunned down in the hall of her elementary school isn’t as important as that?”
In video posted by Granite State Progress, former Rep. Jeb Bradley (R-NH), who moderated the town hall, says that he chose to screen out questions on guns. GSP also says that one constituent did get to ask a guns question after he wrote on a form that his question would actually be about “mental health.” Bradley claims he made this decision without being asked to do so by Ayotte.