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Ayotte's gun vote: 'Disgusting' political bullying

A senator's job is to study the issues that come before the Senate, to engage thoughtfully in debate and to cast a considered vote. On the Senate's voluminous gun control legislation, Sen. Kelly Ayotte did that job incredibly well. And for that she has been attacked by partisans on both sides whose emotional outbursts demonstrate why we need a Senate in the first place.

When the Manchin-Toomey amendment to Sen. Barbara Boxer's gun control bill emerged as the best hope for getting any gun legislation passed this year, many conservative activists pressed Republicans to kill it by filibuster. Ayotte voted to bring it to the floor for debate. Conservative columnist Michelle Malkin, among others, urged the Tea Party to remember that vote, suggesting that Ayotte deserved to be primaried out of her Senate seat simply for allowing a bill with questionable support to be debated.

Ayotte wound up voting against the bill, which failed on a 54-46 vote (both sides had agreed to a 60-vote threshold for passage). She reasoned that it would impose a hefty burden on gun dealers without producing a justifiable increase in public safety. For that the left has accused her of not caring about the deaths of children.

At a town hall meeting in Warren on Tuesday, Erica Lafferty, daughter of the Sandy Hook Elementary School principal killed last November, asked Ayotte about her vote. "You had mentioned that the burden to owners of gun stores that these expanded background checks would cause. I'm just wondering why the burden of my mother being gunned down in the hall of her elementary school isn't as important as that?"

Ayotte explained her vote and explained that the background check bill would have done nothing to prevent the Newtown shootings. That fact has been pointed out by numerous news organizations. Lafferty was unmoved.

"It's disappointing and disgusting that she can pretty much look me in the eye and try to justify my mother's murder and the murder of five other educators and the murders of 6- and 7-year-olds," Lafferty told Politico afterwards. "It's disgusting."

No, what is disgusting is deliberately mischaracterizing someone's position for the purpose of portraying that person as a willing accomplice to murder. That has been the left's strategy since Newtown. It is a testament to the Senate that a majority of its members, including Ayotte, did not cave to such bullying.

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