Washington – The Connecticut congressional delegation on Tuesday introduced a bill in the U.S. House named after a 15-year-old from Guilford that would place new requirements on gun owners to ensure firearms are stored safely in the home.
Ethan’s Law, named after Ethan Song, a teen who accidentally shot himself in the head last year with a gun owned by his friend’s father, would impose a $500 fine each time an unsecured, loaded gun is found in a home. The bill would also substantially increase that fine – and increase liability in a civil suit — if that weapon accidentally wounds or kills someone.
“This legislation will protect families who own guns,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rdDistrict, the chief sponsor of the House legislation.
A similar bill was introduced by Connecticut Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy in January.
At a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday attended by Connecticut lawmakers and Ethan’s parents, Kristin and Michael Song, DeLauro said 4.6 million American children live in homes in which a firearm is kept loaded and unlocked.
“I didn’t realize that more people have died in this country of gun violence in the last 50 years that in all the wars in America,” Kristin Song said.
She said her son was added to that list of gun violence victims last year when he visited a friend’s home where loaded guns and ammunition were stored in a carboard box.
“It was only a matter of time before someone got shot. Tragically, it was my son,” Kristin Song said. “Good guys lock up their guns.”
Connecticut’s House of Representatives approved a similar bill in honor of Ethan Song about two weeks ago and the state Senate is expected to follow on Thursday.
“Connecticut will pass Ethan’s Law,” Blumenthal said.
But he also said that state laws governing the safe storage of guns are “inconsistent” and vary from state to state, making a federal law necessary.
The bill introduced in the U.S. House is also expected to pass. The U.S. House has approved several gun control bills since Democrats won control of that chamber in last year’s elections.
But there has been no movement on any gun bill in the U.S. Senate, mainly because of opposition to the legislation by the National Rifle Association.
The NRA supports voluntary guidelines for safe storage of weapons, but not government regulations on the storage of guns.
Still, Ethan’s Law’s Senate sponsors, Murphy and Blumenthal, say their bill is a “common sense” measure with bipartisan support.
Murphy said Ethan’s Law would not only help prevent accidental shootings, but suicides as well.
“In 40 percent of child suicides, they are using a gun,” Murphy said. “Often it is their parent’s weapon.”