Parents of children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School appeared before a subcommittee of the Connecticut Legislature on Monday to speak about gun control. While some used the platform to promote stricter firearms legislation, at least one parent became passionate, claiming that there are more than enough laws on the books, that current regulations simply need to be enforced and that the nation needs to embrace personal responsibility.
Mark Mattioli, whose six-year-old son James perished inside of the school, testified that a plethora of new gun laws isn’t the answer and that, instead, personal responsibility, accountability and civility are the best path forward. He made his comments as intense debate surrounding gun control and the causal factors behind the shooting continue to be at the forefront of public discussion.
The grieving father, who ended up receiving a standing ovation, said that he believes in “simple, few gun laws” and that there are already “more than enough on the books.” Mattioli contends that “the problem is not gun laws” and that these regulations simply need to be enforced.
“How do we expect to have any impact on a society and say, ‘We’re going to pass a law. Hey this is inexcusable. We can’t allow any more of this. Let’s pass a law that will change the course of the future’ when we don’t enforce the laws that we have on the books — the most important laws?,” he asked.
Mattioli also addressed mental health, a key issue that has often fallen second to gun control in discussions surrounding the Sandy Hook shooting.
“I think there’s much more promise for a solution in identifying, researching and creating solutions along the lines of mental health issues — I think there’s a lot of work that can be done there,” he said. “I believe the solution may not be as easy to implement as I might hope, but it’s a simple concept. We need civility across our nation.”
At one point Mattioli got so emotional during the the testimony that he had to move onto a new topic. He eventually went on to say that “we need common decency to prevail,” dismissing calls for greater gun control. Mattioli gave the specific example of Chicago, a city with tough gun laws, but one that continues to experience intense violence. He noted that gun laws did not protect the hundreds of people who died in that city last year.
Watch Mattioli’s passionate and emotional speech, below: