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Federal gun laws could soon look more like Connecticut’s

Memorial for the 19 children and two adults killed on May 24th during a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 30, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas.
Yasin Ozturk
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
This memorial is for the 19 children and two adults killed on May 24, 2022, during a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

Connecticut's gun laws are influencing new legislation in the U.S. Senate. The new Protecting Our Kids Act draws directly from the state's existing laws.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Protecting Our Kids Act Wednesday, moving the legislation on to the Senate floor. The bill includes Ethan’s Law, legislation named after a teenager from Connecticut who fatally shot himself by accident with an unsecured gun at a neighbor’s house. Ethan’s Law, passed in 2019, regulates the storage of firearms – loaded and unloaded – in residential homes occupied by minors.

The Protecting Our Kids Act also increases the federal age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21, establishes offenses for the production and possession of large-capacity magazines, and applies existing gun laws to firearms built at home, among other new restrictions.

If the act passes the Senate, not much would change in Connecticut, which has most of these regulations in place. Rather, Connecticut would be used as a model for the rest of the nation.

According to the Giffords Law Center, there are no current federal standards for firearm locking devices.

“It’s about we the people expressing our desire for freedom, to not be separated from our children by a bullet unnecessarily,” Mike Song, Ethan’s father, said at a news conference Wednesday. “It’s a freedom for us to have a gun locked up so that a Parkland or Sandy Hook can never happen again.”

The Protecting Our Kids Act was passed by the House in response to the recent shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde with a 223-204 vote. Just five House Republicans voted in favor of the bill, which is expected to face difficulty in the evenly split Senate.

The legislation would require 60 votes to overcome a Republican filibuster, meaning 10 Republican senators would have to vote against party lines. While unlikely, bipartisan negotiations are underway.

“Today is a victory. Let us not think about what we can’t get done today,” said U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat.

“We weren’t sure yesterday that we could get done what we're doing today,” she said. “And we will move to tomorrow, making sure we keep at this. That’s the way things get done. That’s the way legislation gets passed.”

Maxwell Zeff is the Spring 2022 Larry Lunden News Intern at CT Public. He assists The Accountability Project investigative news team.

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