White House press secretary Jay Carney on Wednesday defended gun control advocates who have confronted lawmakers at town-hall meetings, saying that President Obama wanted them to “make their voices heard.”
Carney said Obama encouraged average citizens to “hold their leaders accountable” after last month’s defeat of a bipartisan measure to expand background checks on gun purchases.
During a town-hall meeting in Warren, N.H., on Tuesday, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who voted against the background-check bill, was confronted by Erica Lafferty, the daughter of Sandy Hook Elementary School principal Dawn Hochsprung. Hochsprung was one of six educators, along with 20 children, killed in the mass shooting there last year.
"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.”
That exchange — and one later also involving Ayotte's vote on the gun bill — drew members of the crowd into heated shouting matches.
"In the end, change comes from the bottom up," Carney said. "Congress acts when the people they represent insist on it."
Carney also said that the White House would work to reintroduce a bill expanding background checks on gun purchases before the midterm elections.
"Somebody asked me the other day, 'Well, won't you wait until after the next elections?'" Carney said. "And the answer is ‘no.’ You know, we're gonna keep pushing. And it will get done, because the American people demand that it get done."