High-Profile Shootings Renew Efforts to Close ‘Charleston Loophole’

February 28, 2018, 11:15 am EST | Share:

COLUMBIA, SC (BILL BURR, WTAT-TV) — Closing the Charleston Loophole – it’s what many people believe is a short waiting period to buy a gun in South Carolina. It is also blamed on Dylann Roof’s ability to buy a gun months before his June 2015 massacre at Mother Emanuel AME.

An effort to extend that waiting period is happening in the General Assembly.

Senate Bill 516 was first introduced last March in the State House. Now, almost a year later and after more high-profile shootings across the country, there’s a renewed effort to make this bill become law.

“That’ll help preserve some human life in South Carolina,” said a member of the Faith Coalition On Gun Violence.

He led public comments from a large group of people a senate subcommittee hearing. Many of them wore t-shirts from the group Moms Demand Action.

But it was an influential voice from Charleston’s faith community who spoke candidly to senators.

“The only thing that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men and women to sit around and do nothing,” said Reverend Eric Manning, pastor of Emanuel AME Church on Calhoun Street.

Reverend Manning briefly referred to the shooting tragedy in June 2015. It was a crime that led to the discussion of longer waiting periods for background checks on those who want to buy a gun.

“516 is a beginning. I know it’s not an end. But it is just a beginning. And I would hope and pray that it allows for us to get some more momentum to do the good work that must be done,” he said while standing at a podium.

Members of the senate subcommittee listened as a Mount Pleasant police officer explained another reason to change gun ownership requirements.

“What we would like to see is our state law be more in compliance with the federal law as to possession of a firearm because our state law addresses hand guns and not firearms,” said Stan Gragg, deputy chief of the Mt. Pleasant Police Department.

State Senator Marlon Kimpson, a Democrat from Charleston and a key sponsor of the bill, argued for an up or down vote on the proposal at the next meeting. While that may not happen, others who support the measure are optimistic it’ll move forward.

“This is a very small step towards preventing gun violence with this bill. But it’s an important step because of closing the Charleston Loophole,” said Arlene Andrews, a member of Moms Demand Action, a national anti-gun violence advocacy group.

State Senator Gerald Malloy, a Democrat from Darlington, tells us he’s concerned the gun reporting requirement and waiting period are sticking points. That means the senate bill faces an uncertain future. Members of the subcommittee will take up those issues at their next meeting.

Representative James Clyburn launched a discharge petition to close the Charleston Loophole, the same one that allowed convicted Emanuel AME gunman Dylann Roof to buy a gun.

Due to clerical errors, a felony drug arrest before the 2015 shootings should have prevented Roof from buying the gun used to kill 9 church members.