Legislation named in honor of Guilford teen Ethan Song would require safe storage to protect children & others from unsecured firearms
Washington (January 31, 2023) - Today, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) joined a group of 186 Members of Congress, led by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), in reintroducing Ethan’s Law, legislation requiring gun owners to safely and securely store their firearms. Named in honor of Ethan Song, a teenager from Guilford, Connecticut, who was tragically killed in 2018 by an unsecured gun in a neighbor’s home. The bill would create federal requirements for safe gun storage and establish strong penalties for any violations. With loaded and unlocked guns in the homes of an estimated 4.6 million American minors and killing or injuring eight children or teens every day, Ethan’s Law would reduce access to these unsupervised firearms often used in suicides, school shootings, and other acts of violence.
Senator Blumenthal, Senator Murphy, and Representative DeLauro announced the reintroduction of the legislation in Connecticut earlier this month at an event with Ethan’s parents, Kristin and Mike Song.
“No one should have to face the unimaginable grief of losing a loved one because of an unsecured firearm. Under Ethan’s Law, responsible safe storage requirements will help prevent these senseless, unnecessary deaths and protect the thousands of children living in homes with unsecured guns,” said Blumenthal. “Through their tireless work, Kristin and Mike Song have been the face of courage and resilience – turning their grief into action. Their advocacy has saved lives across Connecticut, and passing this legislation will save lives across the country.”
“It’s simple – safe gun storage saves lives. I’m grateful to the Song family, who have turned unimaginable tragedy into advocacy. I’m proud to join Senator Blumenthal and Congresswoman DeLauro in reintroducing this important legislation. Connecticut has already proven that Ethan’s Law will protect more kids from unsecured firearms, and Congress should follow suit,” said Murphy.
“If this commonsense safety measure had been in place, Ethan Song’s needless death could have been prevented,” said DeLauro. “In fact, the lives of thousands could be saved. There is no reason a child should be able to easily access a deadly weapon. Last Congress, we passed Ethan’s Law in the House of Representatives for the first time, and on a bipartisan basis. Congress must act, and once more pass Ethan’s Law to protect our children and families from senseless violence. I thank Kristin and Mike Song for leading the movement to protect our children, and for turning great personal loss into a drive to prevent similar tragedies for other families. We will keep fighting until Ethan’s Law is the law of the land.”
“Today marks five years since the ER doctor whispered, ‘your son is gone,’ and my family’s world shattered. We will never hear Ethan’s laugh, see his infectious smile or look into his beautiful green eyes again,” said Kristin Song. “We are walking an unimaginable journey; it is hell on earth. I know you don’t think it can happen to you. I didn’t either. Our goal in passing Ethan’s Law is to create a cultural shift where it becomes second nature for gun owners to secure their weapons if they are not in their immediate control. This law will not stop all the shootings, but it will stop many, and to those children and parents, that is priceless.”
Under Ethan’s Law, gun owners would be required to secure their firearms in a “secure gun storage or safety device” if a minor is likely to gain access to the firearm without permission, or if a resident of the dwelling cannot legally possess a firearm under existing law. The bill also includes incentives for states to pass and enforce their own safe gun storage laws.
Ethan’s Law was passed by the Connecticut General Assembly in May of 2019 and signed by Governor Ned Lamont in June 2019. Last year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Ethan’s Law as part of the Protecting Our Kids Act, a broader legislative package focused on addressing America’s gun violence epidemic. 24 states already have some form of safe storage or child access prevention laws already on the books.
In addition to Senators Markey, Blumenthal, and Murphy, and Representative DeLauro, the legislation is cosponsored in the Senate by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Angus King (I-Maine), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
In the House, the legislation is cosponsored by over 156 members, including U.S. Representatives John Larson (CT-01), Joe Courtney (CT-02), Jim Himes (CT-04), and Jahana Hayes (CT-05).
“I am proud to stand with the entire Connecticut delegation and Ethan’s parents, Mike and Kristin Song, to reintroduce Ethan’s Law in Congress,” said Larson. “Ethan Song lost his life far too soon because of a gun that was not securely stored. A federal standard for safe gun storage will help to prevent families across the country from experiencing the pain of losing a child. Because of Rep. DeLauro and the Songs’ tireless leadership, we were able to pass this bill in the House last year with bipartisan support. I look forward to working with my colleagues to save lives by finally making this common-sense solution law.”
“People across eastern Connecticut and across the U.S. are united in support of promoting best practices and commonsense laws when it comes to firearms safety, and so is our Connecticut delegation,” said Courtney. “Congress finally came together last year to pass legislation to bolster public safety against gun violence and to prevent tragedies before they happen—and we did it in bipartisan fashion—but already in 2023 we’ve seen that more can and should be done to protect the lives of innocent Americans. Ethan’s Law is a commonsense bill that could help save lives, and I urge the rest of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support its swift passage.”
“Safe storage laws are supported by the majority of Americans. Continuing to reject a commonsense policy backed by the American people is as undemocratic as it is negligent,” said Himes. “I am proud to join my colleagues in supporting this legislation, which has already been passed in Connecticut, and which will help protect children and teens nationwide from injury or death due to improperly secured firearms.”
“Connecticut is a gun safety leader across the country thanks to the efforts of the Song family and dedicated gun violence prevention advocates,” said Hayes. “I join my colleagues in reintroducing Ethan’s Law to keep guns out of the hands of children by requiring secure firearm storage nationwide. As Deputy Whip of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, I will continue to work in advancing Ethan’s Law through Congress and to support common sense legislation to end the gun violence epidemic.”
Ethan’s Law is also endorsed by over 180 gun violence prevention and law enforcement advocacy groups, including the Newtown Action Alliance, Giffords, Everytown for Gun Safety, Brady: United Against Gun Violence, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, Sandy Hook Promise, and March For Our Lives.
“Newtown Action Alliance is proud to support Senator Blumenthal and Congresswoman DeLauro's bill to keep kids safe from unsecured guns,” said Po Murray, Chairwoman of the Newtown Action Alliance. “The 2019 U.S. Secret Service Analysis of Targeted School Violence showed that 76% of school shooters acquired their firearms from the home of a parent or another close relative. Ethan's Law will help to dramatically reduce school shootings, unintentional shootings, and gun suicides. It will also promote responsible gun ownership in a nation with 400 million civilian-owned firearms. Gun violence is preventable and we urge the 118th Congress to pass Ethan's Law and send it to President Biden's desk to protect our children.”
“Storing guns safely, securely, and out of the reach of children is a fundamental responsibility of every gun owner,” said Adzi Vokhiwa, Federal Affairs Director at Giffords. “More than 4.6 million children live in a home with a locked, unloaded gun, and as a result, far too many kids are accidentally injured or killed with guns every year. We thank Senator Blumenthal and Congresswoman DeLauro for introducing Ethan's Law to encourage more states to pass child access prevention laws and keep children safe from unsecured guns in the home.”
“When it comes to responsible gun ownership, the absolute bare minimum is keeping any weapons away from kids, which means storing them securely in a place they can’t access,” said John Feinblatt, President of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Ethan’s Law will hold parents who fail to secure their guns accountable while also respecting the rights of responsible gun owners, and we applaud Senator Blumenthal, Senator Murphy, and Congresswoman DeLauro for reintroducing it.”
“Each day in America, eight children and teens are unintentionally injured or killed in preventable instances of ‘family fire,’ shootings involving an unsecured or misused firearm found in the home. At least 4.6 million children live in homes with unlocked and loaded firearms, homes where childhood curiosity can quickly turn to permanent loss,” said Kris Brown, President of Brady: United Against Gun Violence. “Ethan’s Law is a common sense approach to this problem, by establishing federal standards for safe gun storage. Brady is proud to endorse this life-saving legislation and grateful to Sen. Blumenthal and Rep. DeLauro for their leadership."
“The MCCA has long been an advocate for responsible gun ownership, which includes the safe storage of firearms. The safe storage requirements in Ethan’s Law are long overdue and will help prevent future tragedies and increase public safety,” said Eddie Garcia, Chief of the Dallas Police Department and President of the Major Cities Chiefs Association. “The MCCA is proud to endorse this legislation and thanks Sen. Blumenthal and Rep. DeLauro for their continued leadership on this critical issue.”
“Sandy Hook Promise stands with the Song family in support of Ethan’s Law. Unsecured guns pose a serious threat to people of all ages, especially young people. Laws that support the secure storage of firearms are critical to ensuring the safety of our children, families and communities,” said Mark Barden, co-founder and CEO of the Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund and father of Daniel, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy.
Kids should not have access to guns, period,” said Zeenat Yahya, Director of Policy at March For Our Lives. “They aren’t toys, they are deadly weapons with deadly consequences. From accidental shootings to youth suicide, careless storage of firearms have taken the lives of far too many children and teens, and it’s contributed to the surge of gun deaths in young people—to the point that it is now the leading cause of death for minors in America. That’s simply unacceptable. March For Our Lives is pleased to see the reintroduction of Ethan’s Law in the Senate and we are hopeful that lawmakers will prioritize this lifesaving legislation. We’re so grateful to know that we have friends in the Senate who will stand up for our lives, it’s time for the whole chamber to act like it, too.”
The text of the Senate legislation can be found here. A one-pager on Ethan’s Law is available here.