Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) defended her guns vote in an op-ed posted Monday. Ayotte has come under criticism for voting against the Manchin-Toomey amendment, a measure that would have expanded the background check requirement to gun shows and online sales. The defeat of that amendment led to the Senate’s failure to pass new gun laws. Last week Erica Lafferty, the daughter of slain Sandy Hook Elementary school teacher Dawn Hochsprung, confronted Ayotte for her vote.
Ayotte defended herself in an op-ed titled “I Voted To Improve Background Checks.” In the article, Ayotte accuses special interests of attacking her and “lying about my efforts to prevent gun-related violence.”
“I want to set the record straight: I support effective background checks and in fact voted recently to improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS),” she wrote.
Ayotte was speaking not of the Manchin-Toomey amendment, but instead a substitute amendment introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA). That proposal would require states to submit more mental health data to NICS but would not touch the current federal policy of when a background check is required, which exempts purchases made at gun shows and on the Internet. “Even if the proposed expansion of background checks had been in place, it wouldn’t have prevented the Sandy Hook tragedy – where the perpetrator obtained the firearms he used by killing his own mother, who owned them lawfully,” said Ayotte, who described the current background check system as “flawed.” “We shouldn’t be expanding a flawed system,” she argued.