Several of us had the opportunity to meet and stand with a courageous young woman yesterday — Erica Lafferty, the surviving daughter of Sandy Hook elementary principal Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung. All of us attended Senator Kelly Ayotte's Town Hall meeting in Tilton yesterday but Erica, above all, had an extremely personal reason to do so, given Senator Ayotte's recent vote on background checks.
Unfortunately, Senator Ayotte was there to deliver her message rather than listen to the citizens in the room. In fact, State Senator Jeb Bradley admitted he had weeded out those on gun control saying "she answered in great depth at the beginning of her town hall (and) talked about her vote on guns ... she addressed it." While he admitted, we "could have spent 1 1/2 hours talking about guns, and I didn't think it would be productive," he essentially decided to take the issue off the public table.
Senator Ayotte "talked about her vote on guns" by using her own PowerPoint slide show, not in response to her audience. She came in and left by a side door so she didn't see the numerous signs, on both sides of the background check issue, seeking to catch her attention at the front door.
Senator Bradley opened the event by remarking that Senator Ayotte was fulfilling her promise to hold town meetings throughout the state on a regular basis. What a hollow promise! An hour long meeting with 40 minutes taken up by a slide show leaving 20 minutes for (prescreened) questions does not meet most definitions of open availability by an elected official to his or her constituents.
Closing the background checks loophole shouldn't be a partisan issue; it is a commonsense step toward decreasing the risks of irresponsible gun ownership. Senator Ayotte got a round of applause when she mentioned keeping guns out of the hands of criminals who buy them on the street. Wouldn't closing the gun show loophole and cracking down on Internet sales work toward drying up the street market for criminals?
Senator Ayotte's slick slide show presentation and avoidance of the "elephant in the room," as one questioner put it, was a huge disappointment and, in my opinion, a dereliction of her duty to her constituents. Perhaps Senator Ayotte could be reminded that she serves all the people of New Hampshire, not just the ones who voted her into office.