According to multiple media reports, Erica Lafferty, the daughter of Sandy Hook Elementary School Principal Dawn Hochsprung, who was killed in last December’s shooting at the school, confronted Ayotte at a town hall meeting in Warren, N.H. on Tuesday.
“You had mentioned that day you voted, owners of gun stores that the expanded background checks would harm,” Lafferty said, according to NBC. “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.”
"Erica, I, certainly let me just say — I'm obviously so sorry,” Ayotte replied. "And 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.”
Ayotte defended her vote, saying the federal government should focus instead on improving existing background checks laws, and that Congress should move to enact measures to make it more difficult for the mentally ill to obtain firearms.
“Where we are right now, my focus has been on wanting to improve our current background check system,” Ayotte said. “Frankly, we have fallen down on actually prosecuting gun crimes and violations of our current background check system.”
Lafferty reportedly left the meeting abruptly after the exchange. It wasn’t the town hall’s only fireworks — a man in the crowd got in a shouting match with Ayotte supporters when he spoke out of turn in challenging the senator on her background checks vote, according to NBC.
Ayotte has seen her poll numbers decline after voting against a bipartisan bill that would expand background checks for gun purchases. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who co-sponsored the legislation, has seen his poll numbers rise to the highest level since he’s been in office.