Advocates of tighter background checks before gun purchases will converge on the State House Thursday, urging lawmakers to close the so-called “Charleston loophole.”
That loophole helped lead to the slaying of nine Charleston church members, gunned down during a Bible study last year, advocates of tighter gun-control laws say.
Accused shooter Dylan Roof, charged with murder in the slayings, was able to buy a gun even though a background check had not been completed.
Authorities now have three days to complete background checks, intended to screen out would-be gun buyers who have criminal records. If a check is not completed within three days, however, a would-be purchaser can go ahead and buy a gun.
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Roof should have been barred from buying a gun because of a drug charge. But that charge was not discovered.
The three-day loophole should be closed, said Carol Tempel an organizer of Thursday’s event.
“In the year after the Emanuel AME slaughter, in a state where nearly two citizens are killed by guns every day, our legislators have refused to hold a hearing on a single bill proposed to make South Carolina safer,” advocates said in a press release.
Gun-control advocates say they want:
▪ Thorough background checks before all gun sales
▪ An extended period — 28 days, instead of three — for completion of background checks that are red-flagged for further investigation
▪ Stronger penalties for those who violate gun laws
State Sen. Marlon Kimpson, D-Charleston, sponsored a proposal this year to require a background check be completed before a person can buy a gun. However, that proposal and other gun regulations — proposed by Kimpson, including a ban on assault weapons — have gone nowhere.
Kimpson blames that lack of action on Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Larry Martin, R-Pickens, who can call a hearing on the proposals but has not.
Martin said he has not called a hearing because the controversial proposals would overwhelm Senate staff with the legislative session winding down. Martin, who said he opposes Kimpson’s bills, said a hearing would be more likely next year, at the start of the first year of a new two-year session.
What: “Hands Around the State House” rally to urge lawmakers to tighten gun background-check laws
When: 11:30 a.m. Thursday
Where: North side of the State House