NBC News: Bringing the national gun debate to a tiny New England town on Tuesday, the daughter of the slain principal of Sandy Hook Elementary confronted Sen. Kelly Ayotte at the lawmaker’s first town hall meeting since she voted against expanded background checks on all commercial gun sales.
Erica Lafferty, who first met with the Republican senator in Washington earlier this month after she opposed the compromise negotiated by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., was visibly angry as she spoke into the microphone at the meeting, which drew more than 100 people who came to condemn or support Ayotte’s vote.
"You had mentioned that day the burden on owners of gun stores that the expanded background checks would harm. 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," said Lafferty, whose mother Dawn Hochsprung was gunned down by Newtown shooter Adam Lanza.
Ayotte responded at the Warren, N.H., meeting: "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," Ayotte said.
Sargent brings up a great point. That it’s not preventing the exact Sandy Hook scenario and only that exact scenario that people like Lafferty are interested in; it’s preventing a future tragedy of any kind:
This debate isn’t just about preventing another Sandy Hook. It’s about doing something to stem an epidemic that continues to kill thousands of Americans per year. Despite the constant claims on the right that “expanded background checks wouldn’t have stopped Sandy Hook,” which is true, the families themselves don’t see this as relevant; they are pushing for gun control in order to prevent more shootings from tearing apart other people’s families later. “I’m not just here for the 26 that died at Sandy Hook,” another family member said recently. “If we can make any steps forward to help save lives, then it’s a step worth taking.” And, yes, there is plenty of evidence that expanding background checks would reduce gun crime.But Ayotte’s response to Lafferty is deeply nonsensical. "All of us want to make sure that [Sandy Hook] doesn’t happen again" -- but doing something to make sure of it is another thing entirely. After hearing it, Lafferty stormed out of the town hall. "I had had enough," she explained afterward.
Ayotte’s more detailed position on the issue is hardly more complex than blowing out a birthday candle and wishing real hard, which her town hall response would suggest. Like all those who voted against expanding background checks, Ayotte insists we have to "enforce the laws we have" and do more to keep guns out of the hands of people who’ve been deemed incapable of owning firearms by the courts -- i.e., "keep them away from crazy people."
But how the hell are you supposed to do that if no one checks to make sure the guy buying a gun isn’t a deranged lunatic or convicted felon? In other words, how are we supposed to enforce the laws we have when clowns like the Hon. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) keep voting against enforcement measures? People who technically aren’t allowed to buy guns face only the slightest inconvenience in acquiring firearms. In 2009, ABC News sent a buyer to a gun show to see how many background checks he could avoid. The result: "After one hour at the show, Omar walked away with a handful of guns, all purchased without one single background check." If you’re legally barred from purchasing a firearm, go to a gun show, go to an online seller, go to a garage sale. It’s just that easy. Without closing the gun show loophole, background checks are a pointless joke. The gun lobby and their stooges keep talking about some "black market" where criminals could buy guns. But there doesn’t have to be a black market. For all intents and purposes, the gun show loophole is the black market -- operating right out in the open, all the damned time. Even Al Qaeda knows about it.
The reason that Ayotte’s and the rest of her soft-on-crime colleagues’ arguments make no sense is not because they haven’t given the issue a lot of thought, but because their position is indefensible. They don’t want to close the gun show loophole because they’ve been paid off not to close the gun show loophole. It’s not about safety or liberty -- that’s all horsecrap -- it’s about selling guns and selling ammunition to criminals. Period. The rest is just rationalization and propaganda. It’s meant to scare gullible and cowardly chumps into supporting soft-on-crime politicians and buying lots and lots of guns themselves. They keep talking about how we should enforce the law, but vote against enforcement. It’s like disbanding a city’s police force, then complaining that no one’s doing anything about all this rape and mayhem. "Wow, crime sure is terrible, huh? Sure wish someone would do something about it. In the meantime, you’d better buy a pile of guns." The whole argument just stump dumb and shame on you if you’ve been stupid enough to fall for it.
Lafferty confronted Ayotte because Ayotte needed to be confronted over her wildly irresponsible vote. It wasn’t a vote in favor of liberty, it was a vote to preserve a loophole used by small arms merchants to sell guns to criminals. She needed to be confronted about it then and every damned day for the rest of her (preferably short) career in politics. And the same goes for the rest of them.
[photo by Mike Saechang]
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