Kelly Ayotte had her first experience with a hostile town hall meeting yesterday when she was confronted by gun regulation advocates who are angry about her vote against the Manchin-Toomey background check legislation. As you can see from the video, the NRA was well-represented too.
But Ayotte's guests included Erica Lafferty, daughter of slain Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hochsprung. Lafferty has not been shy about confronting Senators who opposed what is the very barest minimum needed to get some control over how weapons fall into the hands of people who shouldn't have them.
Among them was Erica Lafferty, whose mother, Dawn Hochsprung, was the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School and was killed in the Dec. 14 shooting. Lafferty began by thanking Ayotte for meeting with her a few weeks earlier, in Washington, immediately after the gun vote.
"You had mentioned that day you voted, 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," Lafferty said.
Ayotte responded: "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.
Wow, that's a pretty lame answer to a pointed and relevant question. Ayotte went on to make some kind of homage to how we have laws on the books, blah blah blah, but Lafferty clearly left unsatisfied.
However, that didn't stop things from staying lively throughout the rest of the town hall.
At the meetings, Ayotte typically takes questions that had been pre-submitted and written down on notecards. A selected moderator chooses and reads them.
This time, though, that caused a stir. Right before Erica Lafferty spoke, Eric Knuffke, of Wentworth, N.H., stood and demanded to be allowed a question.
"You can't deny people the right to speak because they haven't filled out a card. I have a question," Knuffke shouted. Supporters of Ayotte shouted back at him.
"I do every single town meeting this way, and we have a process," Ayotte responded, though her voice - thin and high-pitched from a cold - was drowned out by the noise.
"You want to regulate that but you don't want to regulate guns," Knuffke yelled back.
"Sit down and shut up!" a member of the crowd shouted back at him, with others joining in.
No, NRA, we're not going to sit down and shut up. Nor should we have to. Just like everyone else, we get to participate in these meetings. Since Ayotte bent to the will of the NRA over the will of the people, it's right and fitting that she feel some of the heat from her decision.