Gubernatorial candidate Joe Cunningham unveils plan to curb gun violence

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Gun violence is a steadily growing problem in South Carolina. Between May and July 2020, the Medical University of South Carolina reported a 70% increase in violent crimes involving firearms. Now, Gubernatorial candidate, Joe Cunningham, unveiled a plan he believes will drastically decrease gun violence in the state.

“My three-step plan includes closing the ‘Charleston loophole’, expanding background checks, and funding a violence prevention plan at the state level,” explained Cunningham.

Here is a breakdown of what each of these steps would entail.

Close the ‘Charleston Loophole’

The Charleston Loophole is a term coined after the Mother Emanuel tragedy. It refers to the flaw in the current background check system that allows someone to purchase a firearm if the FBI doesn’t complete their background check in three days. The ‘loophole’ is how the Charleston church shooter was able to obtain the gun he used to kill nine people in 2015.

Under Cunningham’s plan, the time limit on background checks would be expanded from three days to 10 days. This would allow more leeway to ensure an individual is thoroughly checked out before purchasing a firearm.

Expanding Background Checks

“Currently, South Carolina does not require background checks on gun purchases at gun shows and private sales which have become the source of many illegal gun purchases,” said Cunningham.

Universal background checks would be implemented under his plan. That means every gun sale in the state would require one.

According to Cunningham, 84% of Americans support universal background checks.

Fully Fund a Violent Prevention Program on the State Level

According to Cunningham, Community Violence Interruption Programs reduce community violence by involving trained individuals from the community to identify people who are most at risk for committing or experiencing violence and provide those individuals with services. These services include mentoring, mediation, and identifying the root causes of violence to address them.

“These programs would identify high-risk victims of violence to prevent recidivism and reduce retaliation,” he said.

A new Charleston non-profit, Motivate to Educate, is also working to bring awareness to the issue through a march this Sunday.

“We just think it’s going to be a great day to talk about what’s happening in our community, the destruction that’s going on because of gun violence,” said Merrill Chapman, a representative of Motivate to Educate.

The ‘Mother’s March for our Sons’ event is Sunday, June 20th from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The march will begin on American and Line Streets and end at Marion Square in Downtown Charleston. Everyone is welcome to attend. There will be speakers, including those whose lives have been affected by gun violence, information, and entertainment.

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