In his family’s home in Guilford, there are photos of moments that Mike Song will cherish forever.
“We are sitting on Block Island with a beautiful sunset, looking out over the ocean, just having a great family moment,” he said, pointing to a photo in the living room.
A new addition is a framed jersey with photos of his son, Ethan.
“He played lacrosse,” Mike said. “He was great. this was his favorite sport.”
Ethan died less than two weeks after his 15th birthday in January 2018.
“The day he got his braces off, he went to one friend’s house and despite having a lifetime of adventures and being in 10,000 places in this home he was not safe,” Mike said. “He ended up dying there.”
That night, Ethan’s parents made a pledge to prevent their nightmare from happening to another family.
“My wife Kristin really sparked I think part of this whole revolution when the night that Ethan died, she turned to me and said, cause we couldn’t sleep, something positive has to come out of this or I won’t be able to live with it,” Mike said, “I said me, too.”
A year and a half later, at the Guilford Fire Department, Gov. Ned Lamont (D) signed Ethan’s Law. It is a gun safety measure in memory of the teen who accidentally killed himself while handling a firearm that was left in a cardboard box inside a Tupperware container.
“Ethan’s death has brought me to my knees,” Kristin said before the governor inked his signature on the new law. “But no matter how tired, shattered or despondent I may be, I will rise unafraid every day in honor of Ethan.”
Ethan’s law requires owners to safely store loaded or unloaded guns.
“Absolutely, this safe would have saved Ethan’s life, he wasn’t going to hack into someone’s safe,” Mike said, showing NBC Connecticut how a biometric safe works at his house. “If you suddenly need access to your gun you press one button put your fingerprint here, safe is open, safe is basically open.”
The Song family gained support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in Hartford. Violation of Ethan’s Law in the state is considered a Class D Felony.
Although not a mandate for Connecticut schools, Ethan’s Law includes the creation of a gun safety curriculum.
“We’re passionate about education and guess what so is the NRA, so are the CCDL our local gun rights chapter," Mike said.
The Guilford Fire Department was packed for the Thursday afternoon signing of Ethan’s Law. Several local gun violence prevention groups, including families form Newtown, were there.
Kristin Song delivered a powerful and emotional narrative reflecting on the night she lost her youngest child.
“The woman needed to see her beautiful boy,” Kristin said, “so he knows that he’s loved and cherished. To kiss his forehead, to tuck him in one last time, to whisper he’s at peace now. She was not allowed to say goodbye.”
“I am not a victim, I am not a survivor,” Kristin said at the end of her remarks. “I am a warrior and here we come DC.”
With support of local gun violence prevention groups, Mike and Kristin Song have already taken trips to meet with lawmakers in Washington, DC.
“When we went to DC, we didn’t go to the easiest folks to convert, we went to the toughest folks to convert and every time I talked to them I felt hopeful,” Mike said.
“One of the most encouraging things was how fast everybody came together, people crossed the aisle,” he added about the law’s passage in Connecticut.
Through their advocacy for the safe gun storage law, the Song family has connected with other families impacted by gun violence from Sandy Hook to Parkland to Columbine.
“We know how hard this is, how painful this is, we don’t want a single other parent to have to experience this because it truly is a nightmare,” Mike said.
The next trip for the Song family to Washington, DC will be in September, Mike said.
This celebration of Ethan’s life Thursday came right before Father’s Day.
“I plan to do a lot of things,” Mike said, “but Ethan will be permeating with me every second of that day and really every day for me.”