HARTFORD, Conn. (CBS Connecticut/AP) — A father whose son died in the Newtown school shooting believes that new gun laws are not the answer.
Mark Mattioli spoke during a gun-control hearing in Hartford Monday. His son, 6-year-old James, was one of 20 Sandy Hook Elementary School students killed last month at the hands of Adam Lanza.
Mattioli urged lawmakers to address the culture of violence.
“It’s a simple concept. We need civility across our nation,” he said. “What we’re seeing are symptoms of a bigger problem. This is a symptom. The problem is not gun laws. The problem is a lack of civility.”
During the Gun Violence Task Force Hearing, Mattioli brought up the problems Chicago is dealing with despite having tough gun-control laws.
“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 who perished last year in that city,” Mattioli said. “What have those laws done to make Chicago a safer city? Nothing, I propose. Can’t we do better? Yes.”
Mattioli also added that more needs to be done to address mental health issues.
He received a standing ovation following his comments.
The hearing by a legislative subcommittee reviewing gun laws offered the first public testimony by family members of those killed at Sandy Hook Elementary, where a gunman slaughtered 20 first-grade children and six women. Adam Lanza had killed his mother in their home across town and then drove to the school to carry out the shooting before committing suicide. The testimony was expected to continue late into the night.
Members of the Connecticut State Police firearms training unit brought weapons to the hearing to provide state lawmakers with a short tutorial on what’s legal and illegal under the state’s current assault weapons ban, passed in 1993. The group included an AR-15, the same type of rifle that was used in the Sandy Hook shooting.
Many gun rights advocates, wearing yellow stickers that read: “Another Responsible Gun Owner,” were among the estimated 2,000 people at the hearing. Metal detectors were installed at the entrance to the Legislative Office Building, and some people waited as long as two hours to get into the building in Hartford.
Many spoke about the need to protect their rights and their families’ safety.
“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.”
Elizabeth Drysdale, a single mother from Waterbury, spoke of three recent incidents that caused her to fear for her safety. She said she should be able to choose the size of magazine and type of firearm to defend herself.
“Don’t my children and I deserve your support and consideration to be safe,” she asked lawmakers.
Judy Aron of West Hartford said bills such as those requiring gun owners to have liability insurance and ammunition taxes only harm lawful gun owners.
“Every gun owner did not pull the trigger that was pulled by Adam Lanza, she said.
The state’s gun manufacturers, meanwhile, urged the subcommittee to not support legislation that could put the state’s historic gun manufacturing industry at risk.
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