GUILFORD -- As the Song family continue to mourn their 15-year-old son, Ethan, who died tragically last year in an accidental shooting, the family is fighting for stricter gun laws.
On Friday, the Songs stood outside Guilford Town Hall with state legislators, local representatives, reporters and activists; they spoke about their push for 'Ethan's Law,' which would require gun owners to secure both loaded and unloaded guns. The law would also raise the age, from 16 to 18, for which an adult would be required to secure a gun if they are living with a minor.
Ethan would have turned 16 on Saturday. As his parents, Kristin and Mike, spoke about their hopes for this new law, they reminisced on that tragic day back in January 2018.
"My worst fear," Kristin Song said. "My beautiful boy, Ethan, walked out of our home and walked towards his death.”
Ethan was over his friend's house last January when he accidentally shot and killed himself after he and his friend gained access to a gun that was stored with the key to the trigger lock in the same container.
“Imagine that your loved one was shot and as they are choking on their blood, being rushed to the hospital, the EMTs working heroically but they know it’s in vain," said Ms. Song. "You pray that your loved one did not die in pain, afraid or alone.”
That fateful day, the Songs joined a growing club that no parent wants to be a part of. Every day, 100 Americans die from guns, according to the organization, Everytown for Gun Safety. And, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, when guns are present in a child's home, it raises the risk for unintentional death or suicide.
“This day, we will stand together: white, black, brown, rich, poor, Jewish, Christian, Democrat and Republican," said Ms. Song. "We will join hands and reduce gun violence by taking one simple action: storing our firearms safely.”
The message on Friday was simple.
"Strong gun laws save lives," said Jeremy Stein, the executive director of Connecticut Against Gun Violence. “What this law is saying is that if you do not lock up your gun and that gun ends up in the wrong hands, you will be held accountable.”
“We are really looking at something that could impact everyone across the country," said Mike Song, Ethan's father. “The thing that I’m really excited about is how many of my friends who own guns are already in compliance with this law, and how some of my friends who weren’t, are now changing and buying that safe.”
Mr. Song said he feels his son's presence every day, especially on a day when so many people joined together to try and change things for the better.
“I’ve got a deep faith that he’s with us and he’s smiling and he’s saying, 'that’s why this all happened: so that we could save thousands of lives," said Mr. Song.
Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) was in Guilford Friday, too, announcing his support for this federal legislation. He said he and Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) will introduce the bill to Congress next week. This legislation comes on the heels of prosecutors charging the friend Ethan was with that day with second degree manslaughter. Prosecutors did not charge the gun owner, Daniel Markle, because they could not prove that the gun was stored loaded.
The Songs have been outspoken about their respect for responsible gun owners. They have said this law would encourage even more people to lock up their weapons, keeping them out of the hands of children, criminals or anyone with mental illness.