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Gun control forces take fight to New Hampshire, Sen. Kelly Ayotte

Gun control advocates are taking their message to the states, through ads, town hall meetings, and shaming campaigns. They poked Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) of New Hampshire on Tuesday.

By Husna HaqCorrespondent / May 1, 2013

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) of New Hampshire waves as she ends her speech at the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., in March. Ayotte, who voted against the gun bill and, notably, was the only senator from the Northeast to vote no on the provision to extend background checks to more gun buyers, have emerged as ground zero in that battle.

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

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If you thought the gun debate ended two weeks ago when the Senate voted against expanded background checks and a host of other gun-control measures, think again.

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Gun-control advocates are reviving the issue at the state level through ads, town hall meetings, and shaming campaigns in an effort to get lawmakers to change their vote and the Senate to reconsider new gun laws.

New Hampshire and its junior senator, Kelly Ayotte (R), who voted against the gun bill and, notably, was the only senator from the Northeast to vote no on the provision to extend background checks to more gun buyers, have emerged as ground zero in that battle.

Back home in New Hampshire, Senator Ayotte is feeling the heat at town hall meetings, where gun-control advocates are expressing anger. Erica Lafferty, whose mother, Dawn, was gunned down by Newtown, Conn., shooter Adam Lanza in December, confronted Ayotte at a town hall meeting in Warren, N.H., Tuesday.

“You had mentioned ... 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,” Ms. Lafferty asked.

We can’t imagine a more uncomfortable moment.

After expressing condolence for her loss, Ayotte said her position on gun laws hadn’t changed.

“As you and I both know, the issue wasn’t a background check system issue in Sandy Hook,” she said. “Mental health, I hope, is the one thing we can agree on going forward.”

With that, the encounter was done – but it’s likely to be the first of many confrontations Ayotte, and other senators who voted against the gun bill, will face in coming weeks.

In fact, Ayotte is one of a handful of senators – including Arizona’s Jeff Flake (R), Nevada’s Dean Heller (R), North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp (D), and Montana’s Max Baucus (D) – who are drawing fire for their "no" votes on background checks.

(Senator Flake recently said his vote puts his popularity “somewhere just below pond scum.” Indeed, a recent Public Policy Polling survey found him among the least popular senators in the country, with a 34 percent approval rating and a 51 percent disapproval rating, after the gun vote.)

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