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State House rally to push for tighter background checks on guns

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.

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.

Cassie Cope: 803-771-8657, @cassielcope

Gun-control rally

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

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