Politics & Government

SC Democratic gov candidate James Smith joins call for ban on assault-style weapons

AR-15: The Gun Behind So Many Mass Shootings

The AR-15 assault rifle is commonly used in mass shootings in the United States. Here's a closer look at likely reasons why.
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The AR-15 assault rifle is commonly used in mass shootings in the United States. Here's a closer look at likely reasons why.

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful James Smith wants to ban the sale of military style weapons like the one authorities say was used in the slaying of 17 students and teachers at a Parkland, Fla., school last week.

The ban would cover the sale of the AR-15 assault-style weapon that has become “the weapon of choice for mass murder,” Smith told The State on Wednesday, adding he also wants to ban bump stocks and trigger cranks, firearm attachments that allow for more rapid fire.

For owners of existing assault-style weapons, Smith is calling for safe storage of those weapons and ammunition and reporting requirements for guns that are lost or stolen.

Smith also said he also wants to close a loophole in federal gun law that says the sale of a firearm can proceed if, after three days, a background check has not been completed. That loophole allowed Dylann Roof to purchase a gun. The avowed white supremacist was convicted and sentenced to death in the 2015 slaying of nine African Americans during a Bible study at “Mother” Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.

Smith’s proposals come a day after his opponents called for their own gun reforms and criticized Smith for receiving high marks from the National Rifle Association’s political action committee, including an “A” in 2014 and a “C” in 2016, according to Charleston businessman Phil Noble, one of Smith’s opponents in the race for governor. It’s unclear how the PAC arrives at its ratings.

Noble said as governor he would back better background checks, a ban on military-style assault rifles and a repeal of a law that allows South Carolinians to carry guns into bars.

Florence attorney Marguerite Willis has called for universal background checks, closing the so-called “Charleston loophole,” banning bump stocks and “getting assault weapons off the streets.”

An Afghanistan War combat veteran, Smith took aim at the Republicans running for governor Wednesday.

“I am speaking loud and clear today that the safety of our children is far more important to me than the political risk of taking on a tough issue,” Smith said in a statement. “I am telling you what a Gov. James Smith will do, and I am challenging (S.C. Gov.) Henry McMaster and Catherine Templeton to do the same.”

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