CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- On Tuesday, South Carolina lawmakers held a conference call to reflect on the upcoming fifth anniversary of the Charleston Church shooting, and to discuss the shortcomings in gun laws that made it possible.
Shortly after Dylann Roof killed nine worshippers during a bible study at Emanuel AME church, lawmakers called for action, demanding to close “the Charleston Loophole,” which allowed Dylann Roof to buy the gun.
The tragedy came on the heels of the Walter Scott shooting, just two months earlier. US House of Representatives Majority Whip, James Clyburn (D-SC) said that the moments presented a critical juncture, and a chance for local and federal leaders to right systemic wrongs.
"We have to remember that Emanuel occurred just two months after the Walter Scott shooting in North Charleston. And in both instances we had the political leadership: republican mayor in North Charleston, and a democratic mayor in Charleston. Rallying with the protestors and responding to what the community needed," says Clyburn.
Local advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety says that the COVID-19 Pandemic impacted the Charleston Loophole in a deadly way. Leaders say it’s more important than ever to crack down on gun safety.
“This loophole has likely grown even deadlier during the pandemic, due to a surge in gun sales that has overwhelmed our background check system,” says Everytown for Gun Safety.
However, change seems to be coming slowly, with legislation related to the Charleston loophole stalling on the Senate floor. With the fifth anniversary of the massacre coming at a pivotal point for race relations in the country, leaders are hopeful that they can learn from the past to create a better future.
Representative Clyburn noted “we’ve got large challenges in front of us, but I’m hopeful.” He says that this year, in light of recent events, “it seems as if the country finally got the message.”
On Wednesday, the five year anniversary of the shooting, Representatives Clyburn and Cunningham will host a virtual Town Hall to provide further updates on the legislation. We will continue following this story as it unfolds.