On Monday in Hartford, Connecticut, Mark Mattioli spoke in front of a gun violence task force. Mattioli lost his six-year-old son James in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut back in December. “Gun laws are not the problem,” he said.
In an emotional testimony, Mattioli said that more gun laws would not solve the problem and that politicians who try and proclaim that the issue is “complex.” He believes there is simply a lack of civility and that “what we are seeing are symptoms of a bigger problem. This is a symptom. The problem is not gun laws. The problem is a lack of civility.”
Mattioli recalled his own experience as a young adult watching “R” rated movies and compared that with what comes on broadcast television today with regards to violence. He believes this is one of the symptoms.
“We need civility,” he said. “We need common decency to prevail.”
The father of the slain six-year-old began to speak about his son, but overcome with emotion attempted to change the subject to the school and students, which again, overcame him with emotion.
While he did make it to speak somewhat about the school of Sandy Hook and referenced the parents as the “primary educators and providers,” one thing I will note here is that public schools that have your children for seven to eight hours a day are the primary educators and in many ways the primary providers. From my perspective this is one of those symptoms in our culture that must be treated and it will only be treated as parents assume the role of primary educators of their children.
Mattioli recalled a time when he was six years old and his parents, who grew up out of the Depression, did not believe in a lot of entertainment and extras. He recounted the story of how he asked his mother for some bubble gum one time and she told him “No.” He said, “So I stole it.” he then tells how his mother found out about it as they arrived home. She quickly returned to the store and made him hand the gum back to the cashier, apologize, and say that he would never do it again.
“That is the kind of parenting we need,” he said. “Parenting is where we need to focus our attention.”
“We do not need complex laws,” Mattioli continued. “I am a big proponent of individual accountability and enforcement, so if there are going to be laws, we should enforce them.”
He then continued by dealing with gun laws in Chicago. “Chicago has some of the toughest gun laws in the country and I would say to people who wanted to have a civil discussion on the topic that I don’t think the gun laws are protecting the people, let alone the 500 alone, who perished last year in that city.”
“What have those laws done to make Chicago a safer city?” he asked. “Nothing, I propose.”
He then asked, “Can’t we do better?” His response was an unwavering “Yes.”
Mattioli then makes the point that all of us on this site have made time and time again. “Criminals, by definition, break the law. What we experienced at Sandy Hook, did (he) break the law? Of course, (he) broke the law.” With reference to the 500 killed in Chicago,he said those that killed them broke the law.
He then said, “Is one more law….I don’t care if you named it ‘James’ law’….I don’t want it.”
“I think we have more than enough (laws) on the books,” he said. “We should hold people individually accountable for their actions and we should enforce laws appropriately and I would say that we are not currently enforcing them appropriately.”
People then stood and applauded his statements.
Of course this is an emotional issue, but it seems that though emotional, Mr. Mattioli recognizes that this is not an issue about inanimate objects in the hands of law abiding citizens who are protected in keeping and bearing such by the United States Constitution. For that, I am thankful for his testimony and my heart goes out to him for the loss of his son and I pray God’s grace would sustain him and his family in this time. Sadly, the Obama administration will use their grief and ignore these clear statements about guns and gun laws to push their own agenda on the rest of us.