If we’re forced to surrender our firearms one day, it won’t be from one big gulp but rather the endless tiny bites of unlimited lawsuits, political backstabbing and extreme social challenge. It will feel like we were set upon by a swarm of gnats, but no one will honestly be able to say we weren’t warned.
Ethan Song of Guilford, Connecticut, was 15 years old in January 2018. He had a friend whose father, a private investigator named Daniel Markle, owned three guns. Markle stored them with their ammunition in a cardboard box hidden under clothing and placed in a Tupperware container inside his closet. Each gun was secured with a gun lock and the keys placed in a separate section of the Tupperware container.
Markle’s son and Ethan played with the guns on several occasions. Afterward, they returned the guns back to the containers and kept their prying secret.
But on one occasion, Ethan pulled the trigger on Markle’s .357 handgun. The bullet struck and killed him.
Waterbury State Attorney Maureen Platt concluded that charges couldn’t be filed against Markle because there was no evidence that he stored the .357 in a loaded condition, a key element necessary to charge someone with “unlawful storage of a gun” in Connecticut. Neither was there any evidence that Markle knew the boys were playing with his guns.
The Songs filed a lawsuit against Daniel Markle. They allege Markle was negligent in that he “unsafely stored and/or kept a loaded gun on the premises when he knew or should have known that a minor was likely to gain access to the gun.” The lawsuit, which also names Markle’s firm, Markle Investigations, alleges that Markle failed to instruct his son on gun safety, failed to warn visitors that he kept a loaded gun and failed to provide a warning to the parents of visiting minors.
Kristin Song spoke emotionally at a news conference recently and claimed that “gun violence” could be reduced dramatically if guns were safely stored and secured. Song respects those, she says, who own guns and simply want to protect their loved ones: “Technology has made it possible to keep firearms out of inappropriate hands while permitting quick access to your firearm in the event that you need to protect your loved one or your home — the safes can be opened in a matter of seconds.”
“Ethan’s Law” has been drafted by Connecticut State Rep. Sean Scanlon (D) to tighten Connecticut’s firearms storage law. He wants all firearms, even those that are unloaded, to be stored “properly.” His bill also raises the age of those considered minors from 16 to 18.
What’s more, a federal gun-storage bill is now being promoted by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, both Connecticut Democrats. Blumenthal grandstanded his bill outside Guilford’s Town Hall with Kristin Song.
Firearms owners who fail to securely store their guns should be held accountable, Blumenthal said. He wants $500 penalties or forfeiture, as well as felony convictions of up to five years in prison, if a firearm causes any injury or death.
The Real Cure
It’s time to hold irresponsible parents accountable. Maybe Ethan Song’s parents should be sued for their inability to teach their son basic manners — not to pry into someone else’s closet. Firearms, including handguns, have always been part of our national landscape. All children must be taught safe handling and respect. Guns are an enduring element in the American culture, and if parents fail or refuse to teach children safe and respectful handling, they should face similar charges of negligence.