Tell Congress to protect children from gun violence

In 2020, firearm-related deaths surpassed motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of death for American children aged 1-19. The CDC researchers who found the data noted in an April 2022 letter to the New England Journal of Medicine that “the increasing firearm-related mortality reflects a longer-term trend and shows that we continue to fail to protect our youth from a preventable cause of death.” Unsecured weapons may be a contributing factor to these horrible statistics. Ethan’s Law is named for Ethan Song, a fifteen-year-old Connecticut teen who was handling an unsecured gun at a friend’s house when it accidentally discharged and killed Ethan. 

On June 8, 2022, the House of Representatives passed Ethan's Law as part of a package of gun violence protection measures to keep kids safe. Now, we must tell the Senate to follow suit. 

Tell your Senators to cosponsor Ethan’s Law! 

Background

4.6 million American children live in homes with at least one gun that is both unlocked and loaded. This easy access to firearms is dangerous, sometimes fatal: in an Everytown analysis of over 2,000 unintentional shootings by children under 18 years old from 2015 to 2020, there were 765 deaths and 1,366 injuries. Children as young as three years old can have enough strength to pull the trigger of a gun. Seven out of ten unintentional child shootings happened in homes, at times children were likely to be home (such as during the weekend or school or summer vacation). Ease of access to unsecured and/or loaded weapons and ammunition enables children to shoot themselves or others, often unknowingly, leading to fatal injuries or death. Such preventable pain and trauma is borne not only by the child, but the child’s family, friends, and larger community.

The lowest rates of injury or death from unintentional child shootings occurred in states with secure storage laws. Ethan’s Law (H.R. 748/S. 190) would federally mandate safe storage of firearms in residences where minors and/or persons unauthorized to have firearms reside, thereby decreasing the likelihood of unintentional shootings by children, and imposes strict penalties for safe storage violations.

In 2021, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) and U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced Ethan’s Law (H.R. 748/S. 190), which would create federal requirements for safe gun storage and penalties for violations.

Jewish Values

In Jewish tradition, children are considered a blessing and gift from God, that their very breath is free of sin (Shabbat 119a). In Maimonides’ view, children are unaware of right and wrong and various Jewish texts intone the obligation of parents to teach their children the difference. As such, a minor – especially a young child – picking up an unsecured weapon lacks the capacity to understand the danger of firing that weapon and the permanence of injury or death.

It is deeply disturbing and upsetting that any family should suffer the preventable trauma of their child unintentionally shooting themselves or others. As Reform Jews, we are called to demand that Congress protect all children and communities from such heartbreaking and preventable loss of life.

Urge your representative and senators to cosponsor Ethan’s Law!

More Information

In addition to sending an email though our form above, you can also call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

For more information, contact Legislative Assistant Shayna Han at (202) 387-2800 or visit the RAC Gun Violence Prevention issue page

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