Signs of support are seen along the road between Newtown and Monroe, where the kids from Sandy Hook Elementary will begin to attend classes in Monroe, Connecticut, January 2, 2013. (Photo : Reuters)
Speaking before a Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting action panel Monday, Mark Mattioli offered a rare voice of dissent among the many victims' families calling for stricter gun control laws.
His voice wavering, Mattioli wiped away tears as he recalled the day his 6-year-old son James was taken from him when a man stormed the school with an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle and began shooting, killing 20 children and six adults in the second-deadliest shooting by a lone gunman at a school in U.S. history.
However, unlike the other grieving parents who testified Monday at the hearing in Hartford, Conn., Mattioli believes there are already more than enough gun laws. Instead, he called for a closer look into mental health policies.
"I don't care if you named it 'James' law,' I don't want (another law)," he said during the first of a series of meetings set up by a legislative task force charged with reviewing the state's gun laws.
"I think there's much more promise for a solution in identifying, researching and creating solutions along the lines of mental health."
Connecticut's medical examiner said he was told that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, had Asperger's syndrome. According to CNN, research has shown no link between that condition and violence.
Drawing hundreds to the Connecticut state house, the hearing underscored the sharp divide in public opinion concerning what steps should be taken next in the wake of the massacre in Newtown.
"The time is now," said Veronique Pozner, the mother of Noah, another victim of the tragic shooting, referring to tightening gun control legislation.
Pozner begged Connecticut to become "an agent for change" across the nation as she held a framed picture of her fallen 6-year-old.
She held up crayon drawing Noah once scribbled on Thanksgiving during her testimony, according to CNN.
"I am thankful for the life I live," Noah wrote.
Another parent of a slain child, Neil Heslin, who lost his 6-year-old boy Jesse in the shooting, asked why the public needed assault weapons and high capacity magazines.
Some in the audience interrupted his statement, shouting, "Second Amendment shall not be infringed."
"We're not living in the Wild West. We're not a Third World nation," Heslin continued. "We have the strongest military in the world. We don't need to defend our homes with weapons like that."
According to CNN, Connecticut already has some of the strictest gun laws in the U.S.