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Save Lives: Close the Charleston Gun Loophole

By David Higham.

As a community and as a nation, when will we say ‘enough is enough’ and do something to stop senseless gun violence? When will we say it is time to close a background check loophole that allows people with criminal records and mental illness to purchase a handgun even when their background check has not been completed?

Technically called a ‘delayed denial’, this provision is more commonly known as the ‘Charleston Loophole’. It allows the F.B.I. three days to tell a gun dealer if a potential buyer fails a background check. If the background check is not completed within this 72-hour period, the gun sale can proceed anyway, by default.

This loophole allowed a shooter in 2015 to buy a 45-caliber handgun, the gun that he later used to murder nine parishioners at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. His felony drug charge should have blocked the sale, but a clerical error masking his offense was not uncovered soon enough.

The Charleston shooter would have failed his background check if the law had allowed it to be completed, and he would not have walked out of a West Charleston gun shop with weapon in hand.

Sadly the nine parishioners gunned down at Emanuel AME are just a small fraction of the daily gun violence that is destroying families and entire communities. On an average day, 93 Americans are killed with guns, and another 200 are injured. Children make up a large part of this carnage—on average 23 children are shot each day in this country. That’s 8,400 children shot each year. That’s 1,458 children killed.

In the last three years our nation has witnessed more than 1,000 mass shootings. The unthinkable is now commonplace.

Like the shooter in Charleston, many thousands of Americans every year are purchasing weapons without having passed a background check.

Some people do this by purchasing from a private dealer, where federal law exempts unlicensed sellers from having to perform any background check before selling a firearm.

Other background checks, ones that are required of people who try to buy firearms from federally licensed dealers, are sometimes not completed before the sale is allowed to proceed. In a small percentage of background checks, and for one reason or another, the F.B.I. examiner is unable to finish the check within the allotted three days.

In the last five years gun dealers have gone forward with more than 15,000 gun sales to prohibited people because a background check could not be completed within the 3-day default period, according to statistics compiled by the advocacy group Everytown For Gun Safety.

Our gun laws allow too many guns to be put in the wrong hands. Convicted felons, people who have been involuntarily committed to a mental institution, and people with domestic violence convictions should not have access to firearms.

Requiring background checks to be completed before a firearm is sold is a common-sense measure that can save lives. It is supported by a majority of Americans and it would be a positive step in addressing gun violence.

South Carolina can follow many other states and by law require background checks to be conducted for all gun sales. Let’s provide a reasonable time to allow the gun checks to be made. Don’t we owe at least that to the church members in Charleston who were brutally murdered, and all of the citizens of this state?

HCDP To Bring Gun Sense Awareness Video to Saturday MLK Film Festival at Convention Center and Monday Birthday Events 

Beginning with Saturday Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend events, the Horry County Democratic Party (HCDP), will air from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center both its new self-produced video on gun violence and the nationally-acclaimed movie on “Newtown,” which documents the impacts of the Sandy Hook massacre of 26 children and six educators on the grieving Connecticut community. The film showings are part of the 12th anniversary Martin Luther King, Jr. film festival events. 

On Monday, HCDP’s gun sense committee will lead the party’s participation in the Myrtle Beach parade, assembling at 11 a.m. at 26th Avenue and Ocean Blvd. and in a Conway march, assembling at 11 a.m. at the old courthouse ending at the Cherryhill Baptist Church at 504 Church St. (Hwy 501). Reverend H.H. Singleton III, who teaches at Benedict College in Columbia will be the featured speaker.
The goal of HCDP’s gun sense committee is to affect gun legislation to close the Charleston loophole, monitor and support gun sense and safety legislative measures, seek out training and awareness for gun sense programs, and work with other groups to end gun violence.

We need your support to close the gun loophole. Please contact us at (843)488-4237 for more information. We will put you in touch with one of the many groups working on this problem. Together we must find the resolve to tackle this problem, and make these changes.

We encourage you to contact your elected representatives, as well.

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