CHARLESTON, SC (WCBD) – Some community organizers and elected officials are hoping the 2017 legislative session will pass laws that can mitigate gun violence in the Lowcountry.

Dozens gathered at Marion Square in downtown Charleston for the “Stand Against Gun Violence” event on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Organizers said MLK’s message of equality, justice and peace are fitting for what they are trying to get across to the people.

“Until it happens to people personally, they really don’t think it can happen to them,” said Reverend Kylon Middleton of Mount Zion AME Church, “I’m a witness it can happen.”

Middleton, who was best friends with the late State Senator Clementa Pinckney, says he cannot understand why background check legislation has not changed since the massacre that claimed the lives of Pinckney and eight others. “We’re not taking anything away from anybody,” said Middleton, “I think it’s becoming more political than common sense.”

2017’s rally was the first event in its history that focused on addressing the background check loopholes. After the church shooting, the FBI admitted an error in the background check system allowed the convicted gunman to purchase the gun after a 3-day wait period came back incomplete.

“We know that if the issue is framed correctly, the majority of South Carolinians are in favor of it,” said State Senator Marlon Kimpson (D-Charleston), “I think the people are ready to do it.”