Amnesty International USA Welcomes Introduction of Ethan’s Law in the House of Representatives
Amnesty International USA welcomes the introduction of “Ethan’s Law” by Representative Rosa DeLauro and urges Congress to pass the bill and encourage states to pass Child Access Prevention (CAP) laws requiring gun owners to secure firearms in their homes.
Gun violence is a human rights issue and under international law the U.S. is obligated to undertake due diligence to protect the rights to life and to security of person and to prevent firearm violence by private actors and in the community by regulating the possession of firearms and ammunition in order to prevent firearms from being misused. This includes ensuring that firearms are safely stored.
Policies calling for the safe storage of firearms can save lives and prevent foreseeable firearm-related injury and death. Too many children and youth- like Ethan Song, die from the unintentional discharge of an unsecured firearm in the home. In fact, research indicates that 4.6 million children in the U.S. live in homes with at least one loaded, unlocked firearm.
Another study evaluating firearm storage patterns in the US found that “[o]f the homes with children and firearms, 55% were reported to have one or more firearms in an unlocked place,” and 43% reported keeping guns without a trigger lock in an unlocked place. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2017, at least four children and teens were unintentionally killed or injured every day with firearms. These deaths are preventable. In addition to preventing unintentional firearm injury and death, safe storage laws can also assist in reducing access to firearms for individuals in crisis. An analysis of states with some form of safe storage laws have 40% fewer suicides and 68% fewer firearm suicides than states without these safeguards in place.
Currently 46 states and the District of Colombia do not have laws requiring firearms to be stored in a locked place to prevent their theft. Passing Ethan’s law in the House and its companion bill, S.193, in the Senate, Congress can lead the country in preventing gun violence by responsibly ensuring that the safe storage of firearms is the law of the land.