Crime & Courts

Efforts to address SC gun-law ‘loophole’ end for the session

Efforts to advance legislation that would close the so-called “Charleston Loophole” before the end of session came to an end Tuesday with little discussion given to either bill that addresses the issue.

A Senate panel spent the majority of its hour-long meeting discussing a bill that allows for firearms to be included in bankruptcy proceedings. With just 10 minutes left, the panel began discussing a bill that would address what many have referred to as the “clerical error” that allowed white supremacist Dylann Roof to purchase a firearm he would use to slay nine African-Americans at a historic Charleston church in 2015.

Sen. Marlon Kimpson, D-Charleston, expressed frustration with the meeting’s progress, noting that Tuesday marked the last Senate judiciary hearing for the session.

“I thought that we could have either carried over those bankruptcy bills or have a briefer discussion,” Kimpson said. “We’ve got to limit debate particularly to the effect that it becomes duplicative, but I wasn’t chairman, so I wasn’t certainly in a position to do that.”

The bills pending involved one that would have shortened the amount of time given to court officials to record criminal information in a database that is used to check whether a person can legally purchase a firearm. It also would have expanded the background check waiting period from three to five days.

The other bill would have expanded the waiting period from the current three days to 28 days.

Both bills were the result of a traveling Senate panel that visited four areas of the state in 2016 to seek public input on how to reform the state’s gun laws without infringing on the rights of law-abiding citizens.

A bill that seeks to expand access to firearms by allowing for permitless carry is also pending before a Senate panel this afternoon. Resigned to the fact that he’ll have to wait until next year to address the Charleston Loophole, Kimpson made a promise to those who support the permitless carry bill.

“They will have to wait until next year as well, if I have anything to do with it,” Kimpson said.

Cynthia Roldán: 803-771-8311, @CynthiaRoldan