POLITICS
05/03/2013 07:27 am ET | Updated May 03, 2013

Kelly Ayotte Declines To Meet With Gun Violence Victim's Widow During Recess

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) has turned down a dinner invitation during the congressional recess from a woman whose husband was killed by gun violence.

Anne Lyczak lost her husband Richard in January 1994, when he was killed in a drive-by shooting in Portsmouth, N.H.

Last week, Lyczak wrote a letter to Ayotte, inviting her to dinner at her house to talk about ways to prevent gun violence. The senator recently voted against legislation sponsored by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) that would have expanded background checks for gun buyers. Lyczak said she was "disappointed" by Ayotte's vote.

"I believe that expanding and strengthening our background check system, which has stopped more than two million attempted purchases by dangerous people since its inception in 1998, will save lives," wrote Lyczak in her letter. "And this is something that your constituents support -- 89 percent support going beyond the provisions of the Manchin-Toomey amendment to require a background check for every gun purchase."

Lyczak proposed dinner with Ayotte on May 1, although she said she would happily work around the senator's schedule.

Ayotte's office, however, turned down Lyczak's request, saying the senator would keep it under consideration for the future. Ayotte's office cited scheduling constraints, according to an email shared with The Huffington Post by the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which backed Manchin-Toomey.

"Unfortunately, the Senator’s schedule had been planned for some time and she is already committed to events and meetings for this state work period," read the email. "If you would like, I can keep your request in our queue and let you know when an opportunity arises."

Her office also offered to schedule a preliminary meeting with Ayotte's state director. Ayotte's spokesman did not return a request for comment from The Huffington Post.

The issue of gun violence has followed Ayotte home for the congressional recess. At the senator's first town hall meeting this week, the daughter of the slain principal at Sandy Hook Elementary School confronted Ayotte.

"You had mentioned that day 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," said Erica Lafferty on Tuesday. Lafferty's mother was principal Dawn Hochsprung.

Ayotte's approval rating also dropped significantly after her vote against the background check amendment, according to polls. The National Rifle Association is now running a radio ad thanking her for her stance.

Other families of gun violence victims also have tried to meet with senators who voted against the background check legislation. Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), both have declined dinner invitations; Neil Heslin, the father of a Sandy Hook victim, had hoped to meet with Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) while in Little Rock but did not get the chance.

This story has been updated to include outreach to Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) by a gun violence victim's family member.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story named Mayors Against Gun Violence. The name of the group is Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

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