Legislators Introduce Bill Mandating Safe Storage of Firearms


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Connecticut Congressional Delegation Introduces Federal Version Of ‘Ethan’s Law’

Two weeks after the Connecticut House of Representatives adopted ‘Ethan’s Law,’ which requires gun owners to store firearms safely and keep them out of the hands of children, the state’s Congressional delegation has introduced a federal version of the law.

U.S. Reps. Rosa DeLauro, Joe Courtney and John Larson, and Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy—all Democrats—announced they would introduce the bill in both chambers in a May 20 press conference in Washington, D.C.

Mike and Kristin Song of Guilford attended the press conference was attended. Their son Ethan accidentally shot himself in the head with a handgun owned by his friend’s father in 2018.

Kristin Song said her 15-year old son had walked to a neighbor’s home to visit a friend where unbeknownst to her, the father there kept three guns stored in a cardboard box with ammunition.

“It was only a matter of time before someone got shot. Tragically, it was my son,” she said.

The boys were looking at the weapons and one accidentally fired. The bullet struck Ethan fatally.

DeLauro said there should be bipartisan support for Ethan’s Law because it addresses a fundamental issue everyone supports: protecting children.

“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.

Sen. Chris Murphy, who is introducing a Senate version of Ethan’s Law, S.193, 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.

The bill would also provide law enforcement grants to states to implement similar laws on the state level.

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20-YEAR COURT CASE

Indiana Appellate Panel Green-Lights City’s Suit Against 10 Gunmakers

An Indiana Court of Appeals panel has unanimously ruled that the city of Gary’s lawsuit against 10 handgun manufacturers can proceed despite the Indiana General Assembly’s 2015 amendments to the state’s immunity statute that shields gunmakers from such suits.

The lawsuit was originally filed in 1999 when Gary alleged the gunmakers knew of illegal sales of handguns, including to illegal buyers through straw purchases. The manufacturers intentionally failed to change their distribution systems to prevent these unlawful sales, the suit maintains.

The unlawfully purchased guns contributed to crime, costing the city money and harming residents, the suit alleges. From 1997 through 2000, 2,136 handguns used in crimes were recovered, of which 764 were sold through dealers who were defendants in the original complaint the city filed in Aug. 30, 1999, writes Marilyn Odendahl on May 23 in Indiana Lawyer magazine.

Defendants were granted a motion to dismiss in 2001. However, the Indiana Supreme Court reversed the decision and it was allowed to proceed. In 2015, the state legislature broadened immunities for manufacturers and made the ban on pursuing legal action against firearms or ammunition manufacturers retroactive to 1999.

In January 2018, the Lake Superior Court dismissed the complaint, finding manufacturers were entitled to immunity under state statute because there was no allegation that their “sales practices violated any specific statute, regulation or ordinance related directly to the sale of firearms.”

The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed, in part, writes Odendahl, finding the immunity statute does not bar all of the city’s claims. Specifically, the appellate panel noted, the law does not provide immunity for the “unlawful design, manufacture, marketing, or sale of a firearm.”

“The City’s amended complaint sufficiently alleges that the City is suing the Manufacturers for their role in the alleged violation of laws governing handgun sales, for which the City may be entitled to damages, injunctive relief, or abatement of a nuisance,” Judge Terry Crone wrote for the court in City of Gary v. Smith & Wesson Corp.

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STATE ROUNDUP

New Jersey Police Chief Violates Law By Demanding Fingerprints For Permit Renewals

A New Jersey police chief is arbitrarily requiring firearm applicants to submit their fingerprints for a handgun permit if it has been more than two years since they last provided them and gun-rights advocates are calling for his dismissal.

Jackson Township Chief of Police Matthew Kunz has “decided to place [his] personal feelings and agenda above the law and the Constitution,” according to an alert posted by Ammoland.

“Chief Kunz is brazenly not following New Jersey state law, administration code and guidelines and undermining the Second Amendment freedoms of the people he exists to serve and protect,” Ammoland writes. “And we are going to hold him accountable.”

On May 21, the New Jersey Second Amendment Society [NJ2AS] filed a formal complaint to Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer and the New Jersey Attorney General’s office, urging them to investigate Kunz for violating state law and take action.

New Jersey law only requires permit applicants submit fingerprints with their initial application. The law includes clauses specifying applicants “need not be fingerprinted again” and “no additional requirements” shall be imposed.

“We clearly spelled out the law and rules in our complaints, something Chief Kunz swore he would uphold,” Ammoland writes.

It costs at least $52 for finger prints. “But hey, as one of the highest paid Chiefs in New Jersey, with a salary of over $200,000, that is pocket change for Chief Kunz,” Ammoland writes.

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IN THE COURTS

Federal Judge: Lawsuit Challenging Washington’s I-1639 Can Proceed

A federal judge has denied Washington State’s request to throw out a lawsuit challenging new restrictions on guns voters adopted last November.

The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) and the National Rifle Association (NRA) are plaintiffs in the case, which is joined by two gun dealers and four individuals who claim their right to own weapons under the Second Amendment has been violated by the statute.

Initiative 1639 has been described as a “hodgepodge of gun control schemes” by gun rights advocates.

Under the 30-page law’s provisions, adults under age 21 can no longer purchase semiautomatic rifles of any type or caliber, because they all fall within the overly broad definition of a “semiautomatic assault rifle.”

The measure requires a 10-day waiting period, so-called “enhanced background checks” and a fee to pay for additional paperwork.

It also requires that gun owners lock up their firearms or be considered criminals. It strips young adults of their Second Amendment rights, the plaintiffs contend. And it lets the government “collect and use gun owner information to enforce compliance and authorize gun confiscations.”

The decision by U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton means “the long delay is over,” said SAF founder Alan Gottlieb.

“The important aspects of the motion to dismiss have been denied,” he said in a statement. “Just as important, the judge’s ruling treats the Second Amendment as any other fundamental individual right that is constitutionally protected.”

State officials argued law-abiding gun owners and retailers do not have standing to sue because they were not in danger of being arrested or penalized.

But Leighton said the plaintiffs don’t need to violate the law and risk punishment to raise the challenge.

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