Advice to Senators everywhere (I have it on good authority that they all read my column): if you have just done something extremely unpopular, don't immediately hold a town hall meeting with your constituents. Senator Kelly Ayotte, Republican of New Hampshire, saw her approval ratings tank after voting to filibuster a bill that would have expanded background checks to include all online and gun show sales. For her vote, Senator Ayotte, was confronted by Erica Lafferty, the daughter of Dawn Hochsprung, the principal of Sandyhook Elementary, who was gunned down by Adam Lanza in his killing spree in Newtown, CT.
Lafferty asks a pointed question, one that Ayotte doesn't have a good answer for:
"You had mentioned that day you voted, owners of gun stores that the expanded background checks would harm," Lafferty said, during a town hall in Warren, N.H. "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."
Ayotte, like many senators, has been caught by the rapid shift in gun politics in America. Voting with gun stores and gun manufacturers in mind used to be political win. Now it's a huge burden: Ayotte's approval rating dropped 15 points after voting against expanded background checks.
She did make the point that background checks would not have stopped Adam Lanza. Fair enough. They would make it more difficult for convicted felons and the mentally ill to get firearms, but it's true that this wouldn't have stopped Adam Lanza (who used his mother's guns). Here's what would have saved at least a few kids lives: magazine limits. Adam Lanza had a magazine that held 30 bullets, but he still had to stop and reload. Eleven children escaped, and lived while he reloaded. If he had to reload at least two more times, the death toll would be less.
Of course, Ayotte didn't mention that, because she wants the gun lobby's support. Instead she talked about mental health, which has become the last refuge for the GOP, which is otherwise out of acceptable answers on guns.
After Ayotte answered, Lafferty stormed out of the room. If Ayotte can't right the ship, her voters will do the same in 2016.