The father of one of the Sandy Hook school shooting victims spoke out against stricter gun control laws in a passionate and emotional plea before a subcommittee of the Connecticut Legislature Monday, which earned him a standing ovation.
Mark Mattioli, whose 6-year-old son James died in the Dec. 14 school shooting
in Newtown, Conn., said a slew of new gun laws isn’t the answer to the real problem, which is enforcement.
"How do we expect to have any impact on a society and say, 'We're going to pass a law. 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.
The hearing served as the first forum for family members of those killed to offer public testimony on gun control laws.
Mattioli also addressed mental health, a peripheral issue to that of gun control, illuminated even more by the Sandy Hook massacre. Shooter Adam Lanza, who killed 20 small children and seven adults, including his mother, before turning the gun on himself, was said to have a form of autism called Asperger syndrome.
"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," Mattioli 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."
Other community members turned out to support their Second Amendment rights.
"The Second Amendment does not protect our right to hunt deer," said Andrew Hesse of Middletown. "It protects our right to self-preservation and preservation of our family. The right to bear arms."
State Rep. Arthur O'Neill, a Republican, assured the audience that lawmakers would reach a compromise on gun laws, and said their outlook had changed since the shooting.
"Dec. 13 was one way of looking at the world, and Dec. 15 is a different way of looking at the world," he said.
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