The widow of slain state Sen. Clementa Pinckney stood behind President Barack Obama at the White House Tuesday as he announced a series of executive actions that he said would curb gun violence.
After he spoke, Obama hugged the family members of victims of gun violence, embracing Jennifer Pinckney and giving her a kiss on the cheek.
State Sen. Gerald Malloy, D-Darlington, sat in the the audience with the slain state senator’s daughters, Eliana and Malana. While their father is missing from their lives physically, Clementa Pinckney is still with his daughters spiritually, Malloy said, calling the daughters “simply amazing.”.
“They are a part of a group that nobody really wants to join,” Malloy said.
Jennifer Pinckney is intent on carrying out her husband’s legacy of working for those with no voice through The Honorable Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney Foundation, Malloy added.
Obama announced efforts to expand background checks to include online and gun-show sales, and add 200 more Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents to help enforce gun laws.
During his speech, Obama said other rights, including the right to worship, should be balanced with the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms.
“Because our right to worship freely and safely – that right was denied to Christians in Charleston, South Carolina,” Obama said, referring to the June 17 mass slaying at Emanuel AME Church, where Clementa Pinckney, D-Jasper, and eight other parishioners were killed.
Accused shooter Dylann Roof, who lived in the Columbia area and posed in photos online with the Confederate flag, was able to buy a gun from a West Columbia store in April despite a pending drug charge because of breakdowns in checking his background, federal authorities have said.
South Carolina has taken action in response to the Emanuel shooting, including taking down the Confederate flag, Malloy said.
But South Carolinians still are being killed by guns every day, said Malloy, who has prefiled legislation to lengthen the time that a gun would-be purchaser must wait for a background check to be completed to 28 days from three.
GOP officials bash ‘executive overreach’
Republicans, who control the S.C. Governor’s Mansion, the state House and Senate, and eight of the state’s nine congressional seats, were quick to condemn President Obama’s executive orders
‘Affront to our constitutional system’
“Every American should be concerned about the executive actions announced by President Obama. I fear it may prove to be yet another executive overreach and affront to our constitutional system of checks and balances. ...
“An individual who pleads ‘not guilty by reason of insanity’ should not be able to pass a federal background check and legally purchase a gun. If President Obama wants to sign bipartisan legislation to expand background checks and keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them, he should support my legislation. With President Obama’s backing, we could pass it in no time.”
— U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-Seneca, who has introduced legislation that would deny guns to individuals with mental illness
‘None of these orders would have prevented ...tragedies’
“President Obama’s actions today to enact additional gun control through executive order — by creating new barriers to purchase for responsible and law-abiding citizens, and expanding the federal government’s role in this area — clearly shows his willingness to again go around the U.S. Congress. His actions are part of a troubling pattern of simply ignoring an equal branch of government when confronting important issues facing the nation. ...
“No president, regardless of party, can just go it alone when they disagree with the will of the American people’s elected representatives in Congress. And the fact is, none of these orders would have prevented the heartbreaking tragedies our nation has experienced.
“What we need to do, and can do together, is work on mental health issues.”
— U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-Charleston, a co-sponsor of legislation proposed by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, that, Scott said, will fix the existing background check system and improve crisis response for the mentally ill
‘Kings may have that power. Presidents do not’
"Under our system of government, presidents do not have the power to trump the rule of law with a signature on a piece of paper. Kings may have that power. Presidents do not.
“As attorney general, I will review the specifics of the president’s executive order. Some items, such as more resources for law enforcement, are clearly constitutional. The president should have advocated those reforms on Day 1 of this administration, not eight years later. Others, such as attempting to rewrite the laws Congress has refused to pass three separate times, are a different matter.
"The president cannot criminalize conduct through executive fiat. He does not have the power to prosecute citizens for disobeying his executive orders.”
— S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson, R-Lexington