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All seven members of Connecticut’s congressional Delegation joined a Zoom call on Wednesday in support of passing a version of Ethan’s Law — which requires state gun owners to store firearms safely in homes where a minor is present or face possible jail time — at the federal level.
“We should not equate what is a child safety issue with the madness, if you will, and the political differences around the issue of gun safety or gun violence,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District. “This is about keeping our children safe. That is our responsibility. That is a moral responsibility and it is a very simple process.”
Ethan’s Law, which was signed into law in Connecticut by Gov. Ned Lamont in 2019, is named in honor of Ethan Song, a Guilford teen who accidentally shot himself with an unsecured firearm that belonged to a friend’s father in January 2018.
The unloaded gun was equipped with a trigger lock but was stored with the keys to both the lock and ammunition.
Ethan’s mother, Kristin Song, said she and Ethan’s father, Mike Song, never viewed the bill as a Second Amendment issue but rather one of child safety.
“We’ve never tried to get into the mix of all the gun legislation,” Kristin Song said during the call. “We viewed it simply as a lifesaving legislation for children, period, just like car seats, seatbelts and having smoke detectors in your home. All of those things were created because children were dying.”
The meeting began with a video tribute to Ethan, which showed him as a happy, dancing child. “There’s my superhero, right there,” Mike Song says in a voice-over, “who could be standing next to me right now.”
Later in the meeting, Mike Song said all of he and Kristin’s friends who own guns are in favor of Ethan’s law, “virtually all of them. ... They are because they know that their kids also play in other people’s homes, that their kids also move about the world. That’s what happened to Ethan. He wasn’t in our home.”
DeLauro, Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and other members of Congress introduced the legislation, which was first raised at the federal level in 2019. It currently has 109 co-signers in Congress.
The lawmakers expressed optimism that President Joe Biden’s presence in the White House and Democratic majorities in the U.S. House and Senate would help get the legislation passed in 2021.
“Requiring safe firearm storage is a simple, straightforward step that will save lives,” Blumenthal said. “Ethan Song was killed tragically and needlessly because of an unsecured gun, but his parents Kristin and Mike turned their grief into powerful advocacy to save others. We can prevent other families from the heartbreak the Song family has endured by passing the commonsense Ethan’s Law and mandating gun owners to store their firearms responsibly.”
“Far too many lives have been lost due to children getting access to a weapon that’s not securely stored,” Murphy said. “That has to change. ... Ethan’s Law was enacted in Connecticut and has proven that it works. It’s now time for the Congress to do the same.”
Rep. John Larson, D-1st District, said he was touched by Kristin and Mike Song’s promotion of the bill. “As a parent, we all search deep in our hearts, and when we hear you speak, I know how difficult it must be, and yet you find the courage,” he said. “How can you not be compelled to do the right thing?”
Earlier Wednesday, the U.S. Senate worked out a power-sharing agreement after several days of stalled negotiations, which may change the political climate in Washington for gun violence bills.
“We showed in the last Congress that they are not just total pie in the sky, that they actually can move,” said Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District. “The Connecticut General Assembly was able to come together on this issue, and I know particularly in my district that these issues were actually pretty contentious. ... I really feel very bullish that we’re going to see this prevail as well in this new political landscape.”
Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, shared Blumenthal’s confidence that the change in leadership at the federal level would lead to success with Ethan’s Law.
“Sadly, the seven of us year after year have to go back to Mike and Kristin and the parents of Sandy Hook and say that at the federal level, we weren’t able to affect change,” Himes said. “We have an opportunity now to reverse that, to actually get something done for the rest of the country, but it won’t come easily. It is going to require all of us to put our noses to the grindstone.”
Rep. Jahana Hayes, who last week asked Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene not be seated on House Education Committee after she questioned legitimacy of the Sandy Hook shooting, said that anyone who is a registered, lawful gun owner should want to store their firearms safely.
“As legislators, we have to do our part to ensure that that happens,” Hayes, D-5th District, said. “We’ve seen so many things happen in Congress, just even in the last week, that really center on people putting down a flag to say, ‘are you going to allow people to infringe upon your Second Amendment rights?’ ... Safe gun ownership is not a Second Amendment conversation. Everybody should want that.”
Michael Hamad can be reached at email@example.com.