Community members and advocates take Sen. Ayotte to task on recent votes, call on her to answer for her vote at three town halls scheduled for this week.
CONCORD, NH – More than thirty community members participated in a press conference at the State Capitol today to highlight opposition to U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte’s recent votes against gun violence prevention, and to call on her to answer during her three upcoming town halls this week why she sided with the NRA lobby over constituents.
A New England College poll earlier this year confirmed that Granite Staters overwhelming support stronger gun violence prevention measures – with nearly 9 in 10 supporting criminal background checks for every gun sale – but Sen. Ayotte voted against the popular provision and constituents this month. Public Policy Polling released numbers last week that found Sen. Ayotte is facing serious backlash over her vote against commonsense background checks, a sentiment echoed by letters to the editor and editorial pages across the state – and soon to be seen at town halls this week.
Speakers at the press conference made the case for urgent and swift action to prevent more gun violence in our communities, and called on Senator Ayotte to answer why she is blocking efforts to do so. They vowed that gun violence prevention advocates would turn out for the Senator’s three town halls this week to demand answers (RSVP to the town hall in Tilton). Here are some of the statements from today’s event:
Judy Stadtman is a co-founder of NH Project for Safer Communities. She lives in Portsmouth with her husband and two children.
“It seems that Senator Ayotte needs a reminder that New Hampshire is not just a ‘pro-gun’ state – it is also a ‘pro-gun safety’ state. A full 89 percent of Granite State residents support expanded background checks as a moderate, commonsense measure to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. By voting against bi-partisan compromise legislation to require expanded background checks, Senator Ayotte chose to take sides with gun lobbyists who want to weaken federal and state guns laws so that virtually anyone can buy any kind of gun with no questions asked, and carry it in every public place in America. That’s not in line with the views of responsible, mainstream gun owners, who overwhelmingly support expanded background checks, and it’s not in line with mainstream New Hampshire values.” – Judy Stadtman, co-founder of NH Project for Safer Communities
Rep. Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) is a Retired Deputy U.S. Marshall and current NH House Majority Leader.
“As a former teacher and a member of law enforcement my heart breaks every time I think about these terrible tragedies. We must act to protect our communities in New Hampshire and across the country. And we must do it without delay. Too much is at stake. That is why I was very disappointed with the vote in the US Senate last week – these were bipartisan compromise bills focused on the very basic commonsense steps we can take to reduce gun violence. I have been told that New Hampshire’s own Senator Ayotte is holding several public town hall meetings this week. I commend her for that. Anytime you vote contrary to the opinion of 90% of your constituents it is important to honestly and personally explain why you did so. I sincerely hope – and without any partisan feelings here at all – that she offers that kind of an explanation this week. It is clear that the people of New Hampshire are looking for one, are expecting one, and deserve one.” – Rep. Steve Shurtleff, Retired Deputy U.S. Marshall
Bill Kingston is a retired airline pilot, combat veteran, gun owner, NRA member and one of the founders of New Castle Promise (modeled after Sandy Hook Promise). He lives in New Castle with his family.
“Let me tell you about your constituents here in New Hampshire, Sen. Ayotte. We are disgusted at the epidemic of violence that has swept this country. A full 89 percent of us support expanded background checks to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. We are horrified that the Constitution of the country we fought for – myself in Vietnam – has been so twisted and tortured by the likes of Wayne LaPierre and the gun manufacturers he represents, and that you and other Senators are willing to go along with it. Responsible gun owners understand that what our Constitution says is that all of our rights have limitations. The First Amendment doesn’t give you the right to yell fire in a crowded theater and the Second Amendment does not give criminals the right to buy guns. Nor was it written to promote this paranoid fantasy that somehow we need to arm ourselves against a possibly hostile government. As a U.S. combat veteran, this sounds to me a lot like sedition. Of course, Sen. Ayotte – not wanting to sound crazy – did not talk about armed uprising when she tried to explain her inexplicable vote to make us less safe in our homes and our beds and our streets and our communities. Sen. Ayotte offered some garbled explanation about how the rights of law abiding gun owners might be infringed upon – total baloney, we all know. When she saw her poll numbers slip as a result she then did an interview where she offered some barely comprehensible talking point about protecting licensed gun dealers. I am here to say enough with all of that Sen. Ayotte. You can protect licensed dealers, and our children and yes, even your own political career, by standing up for what’s right and fixing our gun laws. It’s time to do the right thing.” – Bill Kingston, New Castle Promise
Rabbi Robin Nafshi serves at the Temple Beth Jacob in Concord.
“In Judaism, safety is a religious concern. Torah states: “When you build a … house, you shall make a parapet (or fence) for your roof, so that you do not bring bloodguilt on your house if anyone should fall from it.” In other words, you are required to properly gate a roof, in order to prevent people from falling off. The later rabbis site this verse to issue a general directive requiring a person to remove or correct any safety hazard, or do whatever is possible to maximize community safety. More specifically, those rabbis ruled that Jewish law prohibits someone from selling offensive weapons to suspected criminals. We know that the overwhelming majority of Americans – and Granite Staters — support these efforts as well. There is no sane reason to opposed background checks for all gun buyers, including those who purchase at gun shows and from private sellers, not just for those who buy from a federal firearms license holder, as the law currently states. After the shootings in Newtown this past year, a sixth grader in our religious said to me, “Rabbi, we expect kids in high school and middle school to be faced with gun violence. But elementary school? How horrible.” I turned to her and said, “What kind of a world have we adults given you where you expect to face gun violence at school? I’m so sorry. We have failed you. We have failed you.” And our elected representatives have failed us. Background checks have saved, do save, and will continue to save lives. They must be expanded.” – Rabbi Robin Nafshi