Father of Sandy Hook 6-Year-Old: “Gun Laws Are Not the Problem, Personal Responsibility Is”

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


The leftist response to Sandy Hook has been to emphasize the government as a national nanny state parent making one rule for all Americans. “You misused your gun, now all the guns get taken away.”

But Mark Mattioli, who lost his son James at Newtown, reminds us in this important video that parenting is an individual act. A work of personal responsibility.

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.”

In a time when too many parents are pressured into endorsing some “Insert Your Child’s Name Here” Law in response to any tragedy, Mark has reminded us all what truly matters.

Change begins with the individual, the parents and the family. Not the government.

  • CurmudgyOneJr

    BRAVO to a brave man. My heart goes out to Mr. Mattioli for his loss. My respect goes out to him for his logical thinking. He is abolutely correct, and that is the reason why these kinds of attacks will continue, regardless of the status of the legality of weapons available. God help us all.

  • http://www.adinakutnicki.com AdinaK

    The gov't is always the problem, and never the solution. Once again, had their been an armed guard or armed adminstrator at the school, the shooter would have been gunned down, instead of all the innocents – http://adinakutnicki.com/2012/12/18/what-the-msm-

    Condolences to all who lost their loved ones. The carnage could have been mitigated, if not for the left's agenda!!

    Adina kutnicki, Israel – http://adinakutnicki.com/about/

    • NYB

      Like what happened at Columbine? They had an armed guard too.

      • Mary Sue

        Columbine also involved BOMBS, if you'll recall.

        • Sean

          But the guard didn’t know that, he exchanged fire with one of the dirtbags, who then ran back inside. The guard called the police and didn’t run in after him.

          Most people don’t understand that having a gun doesn’t make you good with it. The amount of adrenaline that will shoot into your system when you are fired upon is incredible. Makes it extremely difficult to hit what you are aiming for.

          Banning guns is ludicrous, the second amendment is there for a reason. But that is not what we are talking about here. Gun control is not “banning”. We know that gun violence will never be eradicated, but maybe, just maybe it can be mitigated.

          • Mary Sue

            The armed guard wasn't there for school shootings, anyway. His purpose was a presence to deter drug dealers and crap. He was one of those 100,000 "cops" from Clinton.

      • Hobbybob

        no they didn't the Janitor radioed the officer and told him what was happening and he was in his car, 5 minutes away.. the officer drove up and engaged 1 of the shooters from 65 feet away and stayed by his car ..

        • brosephus

          In the Clackamas Mall shooting here in Oregon, how many concealed carriers do you think were there? At least one I saw in the news. I'd be surprised if there weren't more. But no one did anything to actively engage the shooter. Now what if they did? Now law enforcement arrives with not one but maybe 4 or 5 active shooters. Then we have 4-5 first responding officers enter the mall with guns drawn. Who do they take aim at? How do the "good" shooters identify themselves? And why do we have so many guns in the first place? Because we are scared. We are scared of crime. Why is there crime? Largely because we live in a system the perpetuates inequality and the largest prison system in the world to train and network criminals. I agree gun laws are not the answer. So let's start with a $20 an hour minimum wage to combat poverty. If you can't afford to pay people a living wage, you shouldn't be in business. Imagine the thriving economy we would have if every single mom and burger flipper was paid a decent wage? Not $5 million per year, just what $40,000? Is that too much to ask? Doesn't a Burger King fry cook put out what $200 in profit in an hour?

  • tip

    this man deserves a medal…..he is a logical thinker…..im sorry for his loss to say the least…the question must be asked again..why is it that a hell of a lot of people have no respect?not even for themselves…have a good look around at shopping malls,public places,talk to people and note the attitudes…its scary…its the same here in australia….12-17 year olds abusing adults…damaging property,shooting people…its crazy but they think its cool? I just dont understand it at all ,,,where do we start…? but we shouldnt be taking guns and in most cases thier hobbies from responsible people..thats just not fair at all..

  • cxt

    My heart goes out the man and his loss.

  • Order 66

    Why isn't this story on all the other Major Media outlets?

    • Daniel Greenfield

      They're focusing on the claim that gun owners booed one of the fathers instead.

    • cdnbn

      Because, the major media make their millions and billions from broadcasting everything BUT common decency.

  • tagalog

    God bless Mr. Mattioli for his clear thinking even in the face of a devastating personal loss.

  • Jobu

    What a fool. If you expect everyone else to be as civil as yourself, you're going to have a bad time.

    • itsjustme

      What does that make you for doing nothing.

  • PAX

    A gun free society is essential. The vast majority of private firearm owners do not have any formal training in how to correctly use the lethal weapon that they own. How can they say that the ownership of the firearm is required to defend theselves?