Lawmaker: Give more time for gun purchase background check
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina lawmaker is reviving his effort to give law enforcement officials five days, instead of just three, to complete background checks for gun purchasers — a waiting period that played a pivotal role in a 2015 mass shooting at a church.
Democratic Sen. Marlon Kimpson of Charleston said Thursday at a Statehouse rally that gun reform has been debated for too long and the General Assembly continues to take no action.
“Part of getting legislation passed in South Carolina is to get a coalition, and we are adding to our coalition by the day,” Kimpson said. “I will not rest until gun reform is passed in this state so we can save lives.”
The bill was initially introduced following a racially motivated shooting that claimed the lives of nine black parishioners at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston in 2015.
Dylan Roof, the man convicted in the church massacre, was able to legally buy his gun because the FBI failed to confirm a pending drug charge against him within a three-day waiting period.
Kimpson’s proposed legislation would extend that period from three days to five days. Kimpson said the bill would streamline the court system and require courts to report criminal case verdicts within 10 days to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and report restraining orders, domestic violence or any cases that might prevent someone from buying a gun within two days. The bill failed to make it out of Senate committee last year.
Kimpson, whose district includes Emanuel AME Church, said he wants to make gun reform a priority in the legislature. The Charleston lawmaker said his colleagues discuss plenty of other topics, but need to focus more on issues of greater urgency.
“We talk about chicken on the Senate floor, bills that would protect big businesses from litigation and lawsuits,” Kimpson said. “We must talk about gun reform and saving those dozens of lives that are being killed each day by the hands of criminals.”
University of South Carolina freshman Jacob Gamble said he and other student activists will speak specifically to lawmakers who have previously opposed the legislation.
“The students of the state are a real political force beyond just sitting at home tweeting about it,” Gamble said. “We’re actually going to come out here and show up and make noise.”
Democratic Rep. Seth Rose of Columbia, who co-sponsored companion legislation in the House, attended Thursday’s rally, hosted by Lowcountry Students for Political Action, and applauded students for their efforts.