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Ray Duckler

Ray Duckler: Two fathers, two slain children and one controversial vote

  • A protester holds a sign against Sen. Kelly Ayotte at the Legislative Office Building in Concord; Thursday, May 16, 2013. In April Ayotte voted against Manchin-Toomey bill that proposed expanding background checks on firearms purchases.<br/><br/>ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff

    A protester holds a sign against Sen. Kelly Ayotte at the Legislative Office Building in Concord; Thursday, May 16, 2013. In April Ayotte voted against Manchin-Toomey bill that proposed expanding background checks on firearms purchases.

    ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff

  • Gilles Rousseau, the father of slain Sandy Hook Elementary School teacher Lauren Rousseau, speaks against Sen. Kelly Ayotte's stance on firearms background checks at the Legislative Office Building in Concord; Thursday, May 16, 2013. In April Ayotte voted against Manchin-Toomey bill that proposed expanding background checks on firearms purchases. Two weeks ago Rousseau tried to approach Sen. Ayotte at a town hall meeting in Fitzwilliam, but was held back by her security staff.<br/><br/><br/>ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff

    Gilles Rousseau, the father of slain Sandy Hook Elementary School teacher Lauren Rousseau, speaks against Sen. Kelly Ayotte's stance on firearms background checks at the Legislative Office Building in Concord; Thursday, May 16, 2013. In April Ayotte voted against Manchin-Toomey bill that proposed expanding background checks on firearms purchases. Two weeks ago Rousseau tried to approach Sen. Ayotte at a town hall meeting in Fitzwilliam, but was held back by her security staff.


    ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff

  • Al Jones of Concord stands in support of Sen. Kelly Ayotte as protesters, including relatives of victims shot at Sandy Hook Elementary School last December, speak out against Ayotte's stance on expanded background checks on firearm sales at the Legislative Office Building in Concord; Thursday, May 16, 2013.<br/><br/>ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff

    Al Jones of Concord stands in support of Sen. Kelly Ayotte as protesters, including relatives of victims shot at Sandy Hook Elementary School last December, speak out against Ayotte's stance on expanded background checks on firearm sales at the Legislative Office Building in Concord; Thursday, May 16, 2013.

    ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff

  • Neil Heslin, father of Jesse Heslin, who was killed last Decmber by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School last December waits for his turn to speak against Sen. Kelly Ayotte's stance on expanded background checks on firearm sales at the Legislative Office Building in Concord; Thursday, May 16, 2013. In April Ayotte voted against Manchin-Toomey bill that proposed expanding background checks on firearms purchases.<br/><br/><br/>ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff

    Neil Heslin, father of Jesse Heslin, who was killed last Decmber by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School last December waits for his turn to speak against Sen. Kelly Ayotte's stance on expanded background checks on firearm sales at the Legislative Office Building in Concord; Thursday, May 16, 2013. In April Ayotte voted against Manchin-Toomey bill that proposed expanding background checks on firearms purchases.


    ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff

  • A protester holds a sign against Sen. Kelly Ayotte at the Legislative Office Building in Concord; Thursday, May 16, 2013. In April Ayotte voted against Manchin-Toomey bill that proposed expanding background checks on firearms purchases.<br/><br/>ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff
  • Gilles Rousseau, the father of slain Sandy Hook Elementary School teacher Lauren Rousseau, speaks against Sen. Kelly Ayotte's stance on firearms background checks at the Legislative Office Building in Concord; Thursday, May 16, 2013. In April Ayotte voted against Manchin-Toomey bill that proposed expanding background checks on firearms purchases. Two weeks ago Rousseau tried to approach Sen. Ayotte at a town hall meeting in Fitzwilliam, but was held back by her security staff.<br/><br/><br/>ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff
  • Al Jones of Concord stands in support of Sen. Kelly Ayotte as protesters, including relatives of victims shot at Sandy Hook Elementary School last December, speak out against Ayotte's stance on expanded background checks on firearm sales at the Legislative Office Building in Concord; Thursday, May 16, 2013.<br/><br/>ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff
  • Neil Heslin, father of Jesse Heslin, who was killed last Decmber by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School last December waits for his turn to speak against Sen. Kelly Ayotte's stance on expanded background checks on firearm sales at the Legislative Office Building in Concord; Thursday, May 16, 2013. In April Ayotte voted against Manchin-Toomey bill that proposed expanding background checks on firearms purchases.<br/><br/><br/>ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff

Earlier this month, Gilles Rousseau, whose daughter was shot to death while teaching at a Connecticut grade school, drove three hours to hand U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte a teddy bear.

He says the bear was knocked to the ground by a member of Ayotte’s entourage. He also says someone else pushed him back when he tried to ask Ayotte why she had voted against a recent bill concerning gun control.

Stymied, frustrated, but determined to be heard, Rousseau returned to New Hampshire yesterday, joining a man whose 6-year-old son was killed in the Newtown shootings that left 26 dead, including 20 children.

They don’t understand why Ayotte won’t support background checks for people who buy guns online or at gun shows.

It only makes sense, they say. It’ll save lives, they claim. Why block it? they ask. Further, Rousseau wants to know why Ayotte deliberately avoided him in Fitzwilliam, where the last of her three

town meetings was held to defend her vote.

And her reputation.

“I’m here today because my daughter can’t be, and I’m not going anywhere, nor are the thousands of other family members of victims and survivors of gun violence,” Rousseau said in his prepared statement. “This time around, the American people are paying close attention, and Sen. Ayotte’s lies have not gone unnoticed. I urge her to reconsider her position.”

Ayotte is news these days. Big news.

She voted against Sens. Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey’s bill, a measure seen by some as nonpartisan, fair-minded and just plain smart. But while other senators voted as she did, striking down a law so many had seen as a solid response to Newtown, Ayotte’s vote is making national headlines.

Why?

“I don’t know that she was very forward publicly before she cast her vote,” Judy Stadtman, co-founder of New Hampshire Project for Safer Communities, said during the press conference. “But in fact, she did oppose background checks from the get-go. I think we all hoped that when it came down to the wire, she would do the right thing.”

Ayotte said she worried about the effect the law would have had on gun stores. She said she worried about the formation of a federal gun registry. She said the focus should be on our mental health system. She said our existing laws need to be strengthened.

All of which has done little to satisfy people such as Rousseau and Neil Heslin, whose son, Jesse Lewis, died that day five months ago in Newtown. They say Ayotte is simply playing politics, simply kowtowing to the mighty National Rifle Association.

“The senators who voted against it, they put their names out there and they will be questioned for why they didn’t support it,” Heslin said. “I feel they will be held accountable by their voters in their state.”

That, some say, is debatable.

At the three recent meetings, people were asked to fill out a card with their name and topic. In Tilton, it was obvious Ayotte wanted nothing to do with the controversy, discussing taxation, Social Security and the attack on a U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya.

Background checks?

Not a word.

“I felt that she had answered the question on what her position was,” Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley explained to the media afterward, “and I was trying to play fair to everybody that was in the room and get a broad range of questions.”

To be fair, Ayotte did, indeed, answer a tough question – “What is wrong with universal background checks?” – at the Fitzwilliam meeting.

But Rousseau says he got nudged aside, literally, essentially claiming he was bullied.

He tried to give Ayotte a teddy bear, presenting it to her in the name of his daughter, and says it was knocked to the ground. Then after the meeting, he says he was shoved away after approaching Ayotte, again by someone connected to the senator.

His question on her vote was not chosen that night.

“I was told that I had to put my name in the box, and they would choose from the box,” Rousseau said. “I sat in the front row and was looking at her the whole time, hoping my name would come up. He already had a list of names pre-picked, and of course they knew who I was.”

Ayotte’s communications director, Jeff Grappone, disputed this, emailing, “Senator Ayotte didn’t know this individual was a family member of a Newtown victim, and he wasn’t treated any different than anyone else at the town hall.”

He had no information on the two conflicts Rousseau described: the teddy bear and the pushing.

When asked why Ayotte had voted against background checks on private sales, Grappone said, “She did vote for legislation to improve the existing background check system.”

But until she changes her mind or the bill gets enough support elsewhere, the Ayotte camp should expect a few encore performances before election time in 2016.

Stadtman, asked whether she’d continue this campaign for the next three years, said, “You bet,” almost before the question from the reporter had been finished.

As for Rousseau and Heslin, they’re not done, either. They want you to know who their children were.

Jesse Lewis Heslin, a first-grader at Sandy Hook Elementary School, loved horseback riding, fishing and eating fast-food hamburgers. He planned to make gingerbread houses on the day he was killed.

“He looked forward to every day of life,” Heslin said. “He looked forward to going to school. He looked forward to going to school that morning.”

Meanwhile, Rousseau’s daughter, Lauren, was 30. She worked part time in a coffee shop, part time as a caterer and part time as a substitute teacher, earning $75 a day at Sandy Hook.

Sometimes she’d change clothes in her car between jobs, hoping to one day have a classroom of her own so she could focus solely on the career she loved.

She taught in place of a teacher who was on leave that day, Dec. 14, 2012. She died from multiple gunshot wounds. All but one of her students died with her.

“I was proud of her,” Rousseau said. “That’s why I brought the bear.”

(Ray Duckler can be reached at 369-3304 or rduckler
@cmonitor.com
or on Twitter
@rayduckler
.)

democrats want to document law abiding real American gun owning citizens but hypocritically shelter illegal aliens calling them undocumented Americans

There are 20,000 guns laws in the US now, perhaps the O, Bloomberg and their lap dog Jeanne should enforce those laws so I can enjoy an oversized soda on occasion. I am relieved one senator from New England wants to talk about the deficits and debt these nitwits have created over the last four and one years.

I love Ayotte spokesman Jeff Grappone's comment that Rousseau "wasn't treated any different(ly) than anyone else". No kidding. Ayotte and her team ignore and bully constituents as a matter of policy. There was nothing "principled" about her vote, or any of her votes. Just as many of us predicted during her election campaign, she was always going to be a party hack, more interested in her own political career than in doing right by the American people.

This story is Pure Partisan Astro-Turfing. Continued phony outrage. So a 2 week story that has already been extensively covered by the media is now front page news? It is amazing how strongly the liberals at the Monitor Hate Senator Ayotte for standing up tall and taling a principled position on the Second Amendment and public safety.

I'm sorry Van. This is should not be a partisan issue. This is parents standing up for their very young children who got shot dead at school. Until the Senator addresses this issue head-on and shows she really cares about fixing the problem, then she deserve the press and attention she gets. The press is going to hound her until she gives a serious and honest breakdown on her decisionmaking and not this back-tracking fairytail story she is dishing out.

Redbird, Beyond the blatantly partisan on Ayotte only - nothing about the Dems who voted like her - is the inescapable axiom - criminals/criminnaly do not obey laws. Thus this new proposal could be no more effective than previous measure which you infer were not effective. They want a "database" (of law-abiding citizens only) as prelude to disarming those same citizens because by definition they can't disarm criminals. its about violence not the dems unleashing the dogs on a legislator wise enough to look beyond the cover of the book. I am glad we have an extraordinary and capable Sen. The country would be better off with more like her.

I am not familiar with a database being created by the bill. I have only heard it being expected as the next step by some news outlets. I don't want guns taken away from law abiding citizens and I think most of the public agrees. It seems to me that this topic is jumping ahead to what might happen when that debate would have to be taken-up by another bill at a later time.

For me RedBird it is the folks that want this bill that are making it partsian.Ayotte is not the only one who felt the bill would do nothing. Why not go after all the Dems that voted as she did? Ayotte is a threat to the left. She is a conservative woman, that might be a star down the road. Like any conservative woman she needs to be destroyed. That is what Libs do, they go after conservative women. On one hand they are all about freedoms for women, but if that woman is conservative, religious and a Rep, they have no use for her. Talk about what is in the bills, talk about what we have now and why it is not working, be fair.

I focus on what is going on in our state and Ayotte is our Senator. I knew her and worked with her years ago and I appreciated the thoughtfulness she put into her job. That has changed and she seems more connected with what moves her ahead politically rather than what is going on in her state. I doubt the Monitor would run an article focused on a Senator from another state when we have one in this state that is ducking the issue. I say, that is fair game for the press to go after. Please Senator Ayotte, speak to us in detail about how your (NRA) plan is better than what was on the table and wildly popular among NH citizens. I will then decide if I agree. If you vote against your electorate, you have to expect someone to be there to ask you why.

RedBird, The Monitor has made this Issue a partisan issue. They use Alinsky rules for radicals by repeating the same lie over and over again and they use ridicule with Marland's misogynistic Editorial Cartoons. I for one would like Shaheen to explain her vote on this issue and voting for Obamacare and voting for the Sequester but we will never get an answer from her because she doesn't have Town Halls. Something Ayotte does.

You know...I read your reply. It got me thinking about the families of the Benghazi citizens killed. I'd really, really like to see them at the next Presidential press conference. Front row. Think Obama would take their questions??? How about if Hillary runs in 2016. Should they show up and give her a Teddy Bear?? That is not partisan. They just want the issue addressed head on and care about fixing the problem...should they "hound them until they give a serious and honest breakdown on their decisionmaking and not this back-tracking fairytail story they are dishing out."....Interesting.

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