HARTFORD, CT —(Updated 7:15 p.m.)“Ethan’s Law” – which would require all firearms, loaded and unloaded, to be safely stored in homes occupied by minors under 18 years of age – easily passed the Senate Thursday with bipartisan support.
Only two Republicans, Sens. Rob Sampson of Wolcott and John Kissel of Enfield, voted against the bill.
Having earlier passed the House with the same bipartisan support it just needs Gov. Ned Lamont’s signature to become law. He has promised to sign the bill.
Kristen and Mike Song, Ethan’s parents were in Washington D.C. earlier this week meeting with Republicans, who were interested in the outcome of Thursday’s vote in Connecticut.
“They were all really open to Ethan’s Law,” Kristin Song said following Thursday’s vote. “They actually said this is exactly what the NRA requires us to do with weapons. It’s not really a heavy lift for us. They wanted to see how this vote turned out.”
Mike Song credited his wife for her advocacy on the issue, adding he was really “proud to be from the state of Connecticut.”
Connecticut’s current safe storage law only requires that loaded firearms be properly stored “if a minor is likely to gain access to the firearm without the permission of the parent or guardian of the minor.”
Ethan Song, of Guilford, died of a self-inflicted gunshot. The 15-year-old accidentally shot himself in the head in January of 2018, the Waterbury state’s attorney’s office said after concluding its investigation.
A juvenile friend of Ethan’s was charged with second-degree manslaughter in the death.
Ethan’s parents have become nationally known advocates for stronger gun storage laws since their son’s death.
The Songs watched the vote with their daughter Emily from the Senate gallery.
Part of the language bill calls, but does not mandate, state education officials to provide guidance to local school districts to developing firearm safety programs in schools.
The president of largest Second Amendment organization in Connecticut, Connecticut Citizens Defense League President Scott Wilson was happy that language is part of the bill.
“Rather than criminalizing gun ownership, teaching children to understand the importance of what can happen if a firearm is handled without adult supervision is much more important,” Wilson said.
The Songs earlier this week made a return trip to Washington, D.C. where Connecticut Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro introduced federal legislation modeled after Connecticut’s “Ethan’s Law” bill.
The Songs met Republicans on Capitol Hill to discuss Ethan’s Law. So far, only Democrats are backing the proposal which is not supported by the National Rifle Association.
But Mike Song said he think as people hear about what happened to his son “it starts to build a wave of awareness.”
DeLauro anticipates there will be bipartisan support for Ethan’s Law because everyone agrees that protecting children is fundamental.
“We are eager and optimistic to see that this law will be passed quickly because nothing is more important than our children’s lives,” she said.
She and U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, who is introducing a Senate version of Ethan’s Law, said the federal bill would include fines for unsafe storage of guns and possible jail time and exposure to civil liabilities if the improperly stored weapon results in injury or death. Their bill would also provide law enforcement grants to states to implement similar laws on the state level.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2017, at least 2,696 children and adolescents were unintentionally shot after a gun was improperly stored; more than 100 were killed. Another 1,110 children their own lives, many with unsecured firearms.
The Harvard School of Public Health found that adolescents who die by suicide are twice as likely to have access to a gun at home than those who survive suicide attempts.
Ethan’s Law wasn’t the only gun bill the Senate passed Thursday.
The Senate also approved legislation 20-15 Thursday that requires a person to secure their pistol or revolver in a motor vehicle and another that regulates so-called “ghost guns” which are handmade guns or 3-D printed guns without serial numbers.
This law comes as many cities in the United States see rising numbers of gun thefts from cars, seeing year-to-year increases of up to 40 percent; Atlanta sees up to 70 percent of all reported gun thefts being guns stolen from cars.
The ghost gun bill requires the person building the gun to obtain a serial number from the Department of Public Safety and Protection. The bill also prohibits the transfer of the handmade guns and doesn’t allow the manufacture of a 3-D printed gun if it can pass undetected through a metal detector.
These guns have been seized in Connecticut towns including Torrington, Ridgefield and Waterbury and were used in California mass shootings in 2013 and 2017.
California and New Jersey previously passed similar legislation; New York and Washington state put “ghost gun” bans into place earlier this month. New Jersey’s law has seen success; at least 15 “ghost gun” companies ended sales in that state since it was enacted.
The ghost gun bill passed 28-7.