Democrats look to force vote on safe gun storage bill

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.)

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and a group of House Democrats announced they filed a discharge petition on a safe gun storage bill in hopes of forcing a floor vote.

“Last night I had the honor to file a discharge petition on the floor of the House to force a vote on Ethan’s Law,” DeLauro said Wednesday in a press conference, joined by other members of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force and the mother of the law’s namesake.

DeLauro reintroduced Ethan’s Law earlier this year in honor of Ethan Song, a 15-year-old from Guilford, Conn., who was shot and killed with an unsecured gun in a neighbor’s home in 2018. The bill would establish federal requirements for safe gun storage and strong penalties for any violations.

A discharge petition is a procedural maneuver designed to force votes over the objection of the majority. Often unsuccessful, the gambit needs a majority of House members’ signatures to bring the legislation for a floor vote.

The Democrats have filed several discharge petitions on several gun reform measures in recent months, facing an uphill climb in the Republican-led chamber.

“I think it’s important to note that we only need a handful of Republicans to join us and we can pass this law and we can pass the other laws that we have discharge petitions on, as well, all of which save lives, all of which deter gun violence,” said Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), the chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.

DeLauro said she is hopeful the discharge petition will have over 200 member signatures.

The Connecticut lawmaker pointed to the state-version of Ethan’s Law, signed in 2019, which closed a loophole in state statutes on the safe storage of unattended firearms in homes.

“It is a commonsense safety measure,” DeLauro said. “What is just says simply is gun owners need to properly secure their guns. It is a health issue, it is not a gun control issue, but it is a health care issue.”

“The harsh or cruel reality is that having guns in the home increases the risk of unintentional shooting suicides, homicides, happening to children of all ages,” DeLauro added.

Democratic Whip Rep. Katherine Clark (Mass.) echoed DeLauro’s comments, calling the legislation a “simple bill.”

“A simple bill that says we need to make sure that all guns are safely stored. This is a simple safety measure. And the fact that my Republican colleagues can face this kind of grief — these stories of loss?” Clark said.

“All they have to do is go to the well of the House and sign a discharge petition. It wouldn’t take a majority. It wouldn’t take a lot of them.”

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