N.H. Senator Confronted By Daughter Of Slain Sandy Hook Principal At Town Hall Meeting

Slain Sandy Hook Elementary school principal, Dawn Hocksprung.

Slain Sandy Hook Elementary school principal, Dawn Hocksprung. Photo from www.thedailybeast.com.

The daughter of slain Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hochsprung confronted Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) at a town hall meeting about her “no” vote on expanded background checks. Ayotte has already suffered a 15-point drop in her approval rating since casting that vote. According to one poll, nearly 75% of New Hampshire residents support expanded background checks.

Erica Lafferty asked Ayotte the following question:

“You had mentioned that day you voted, owners of gun stores that the expanded background checks would harm. I’m just wondering why the burden of my mother being gunned down in the halls of her elementary school isn’t as important as that. Why is that not something that can be supported?”

Ayotte gave this broken, stammered answer:

“Erica, um, certainly, let me just say, that, um, I’m obviously so sorry, and as everyone is here no matter what our views are, for what you have been through. My view on the bill that I did not support, and why I supported, um, the, the bi-partisan bill that I did support, was that I felt the enhanced improvements to our background check system—and, as you and I both know, the issue wasn’t a background check system issue in Sandy Hook. Mental health, I hope, is one thing that we can agree on going forward and getting done. I certainly wanted to get to your question, uh, I know you must have traveled to come here, and I’ll continue to talk with you as I did in my office that day.”

At that point, Lafferty stormed out of the town hall meeting, and, according to NBC News, “had had enough.”

There are many reasons why those who voted against expanded background checks did so. According to The Huffington Post article, Ayotte began her town hall meeting by saying that she’s focusing on improving our current background check system, and stated what has become a GOP mantra regarding expanding checks, saying that the government’s failed miserably at prosecuting people who fail background checks.

Unfortunately, they, the NRA, and anybody else who chants that, are looking only at numbers, and not at the reasons behind those numbers. Politifact rates the numbers themselves as true: In 2009, the FBI did refer roughly 71,000 cases to the ATF, and yes, only 77 of them were prosecuted. But reasons for the rest range from the fact that simply failing a background check does not mean a crime was committed, to the fact that about 25% of the FBI’s denials are cases where people should not have been denied, to the cases that had no prosecutive merit or federal/state guidelines weren’t met.

So the cases are being investigated, and referred to the proper authorities. Politifact rated the statement half true because the numbers are true, but the implication that the government is simply ignoring or dismissing cases that should be prosecuted is not.

Other senators that voted “no” have seen their approval ratings drop also. Sen. Jeff Flake’s (R-AZ) approval rating dropped 19 points, and just over 50% of Arizona voters said they’ll be less likely to vote for him in the next election. Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) saw his rating drop six points, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) saw a drop of 16 points.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), on the other hand, saw his approval rating go up by seven points.

In other words, people are making themselves heard. More than 80% of the general population across the U.S. supports expanded checks. It’s likely that those who supported the Manchin-Toomey amendment also saw rises in their ratings, though Public Policy Polling hasn’t yet conducted a poll to gauge that. Continuing to vote against measures that pretty much everyone wants appears to be having political consequences for those involved. And it’s about time.

eve Rika Christensen is an experienced writer and loves debating politics. Engage with her and see more of her work by following her on Facebook and Twitter, and check out her blog, They Need To Go.