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Lawmakers plan to reintroduce 'Ethan's Law' mandating parents secure guns in homes with children

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) speaks as Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) (L) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) (R) listen during an event to mark the 10th anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on December 8, 2022 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong
U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-3rd District) speaks as Democratic U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy (left) and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut listen during an event to mark the 10th anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 8, 2022.

Connecticut lawmakers announced Wednesday that they plan to reintroduce federal legislation aimed at parents who leave firearms unsecured in their homes.

Ethan’s Law would dictate that adults in homes with children, or anyone else ineligible to own a firearm, would be required to keep their weapons secured. Violators would face fines starting at $500, or in cases resulting in an injured child, they could be imprisoned for up to five years. The law is named for Ethan Song of Guilford, who at age 15 accidentally shot himself with an unsecured gun in a friend’s home in 2018. Song’s parents successfully pushed this legislation through the Connecticut General Assembly in 2019 with bipartisan support.

They then took the bill to Washington, where it passed through the House of Representatives with support from Democrats and three Republicans, but it was lumped together with other gun control legislation that then stalled in the Senate.

Ethan’s mother believes lobbying from gun rights organizations is to blame.

“The NRA and the National [Shooting Sports] Foundation, they have really powerful lobbyists down in D.C., working every single day to make sure that Republicans hold the line,” Song said. “Which is honestly quite strange because [these are measures] that both the NRA and the NSSF promote on their websites. If you go and check out their website, it’s going to pop up with all this incredible information on how you should store your weapons and ammunition — and they actually hope that their gun owners store [guns and ammunition] separate. And Ethan’s Law doesn’t even go that far.”

“The NRA supports safe storage for every firearm owned in America,” Amy Hunter, director of media relations at the NRA, wrote in an email to CT Public. “And we educate gun owners to keep firearms away from unauthorized users. We believe it should be a personal decision based upon the specific needs of the firearm owner or household versus mandating a specific storage method.”

It is not clear whether the GOP lawmakers who pushed against the gun control legislation had any specific objections to the provisions in Ethan’s Law.

U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, both Democrats from Connecticut, joined U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-3rd District) at the New Haven Botanical Garden of Healing Dedicated to Victims of Gun Violence to announce their plans to reintroduce the legislation on Wednesday.

Song said this legislation is relevant not only to gun-related accidents, but it could also reduce the number of school shootings and teen suicides. She pointed to a 2019 study from the U.S. Secret Service that found that 76% of all school shootings were carried out with unsecured firearms from the perpetrator’s home. Murphy shared a similar sentiment during a news conference Wednesday.

“Connecticut has a gun violence rate 400% lower than the states in this country with the loosest gun laws,” Murphy said at the news conference. “That’s not a coincidence. That’s because we have passed laws, like Ethan’s Law, that have made it just a little bit harder for the wrong people to get their hands on dangerous weapons.”

Song says that this session, proponents of the bill will need five U.S. House Republicans to get the bill through the GOP-controlled chamber. However, she is hopeful.

“I’ll continue to fight to pass this bill, because I know it’s going to save so many children’s lives.”

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