It’s been four years since the murder of 9 church members at Emanuel AME church in Downtown Charleston. But, it’s still an uphill battle for lawmakers looking to enhance gun laws, improve gun safety and close the “Charleston Loophole”.
Gun ownership has been a hot topic at the South Carolina State House since Dylann Roof walked into Emanuel AME church, sat in bible study for an hour and opened fire on the church members, killing 9. Since then, lawmakers have filed several bills that could tighten gun restrictions in the state and limit who can have a firearm
“We need more stringent laws. We need more stringent laws for people who are careless.” Democratice Rep. Wendell Gilliard of Charleston continues “we need more stringent laws for people who choose and buy and operate with a license, and yet they sell them underground.”
Rep. Gillard is just one of many lawmakers hoping for changes.
In the legislative session immediately following the murders at Mother Emanuel, lawmakers wasted no time filing legislation to strengthen gun laws in South Carolina. One bill extends the time frame people have to wait for a background check before buying a gun.
Right now, the state calls for 3-day waiting period, but after that, the sale of a firearm is up to the store owner. If passed, the waiting period would go from 3 to 5 days, a bill in the Senate calls for to 10 days.
Another bill makes sure the most up to date information is in the system for FBI background checks.
Those same bills have been refiled every year since 2015, which Rep. Beth Bernstein, a Democratic lawmaker from Richland county think is a shame. “It’s unfortunate that, as a legislative body, we have been unable to make any strides in this area.”
Legilsation has also been filed that would expand gun possession. The constitutional carry act was able to bypass the Senate Committee process and will be taken up for debate on the Senate floor next year.
The gun safety bills filed are on hold in their appropriate committees until lawmakers return to the State House in January. As of now, it’s unclear if any legislation related to gun control will pass in the upcoming session either.