Clyburn, Cunningham vow to close "Charleston loophole" in gun background checks

S.C. Congressmen Jim Clyburn and Joe Cunningham vow to close so-called Charleston loophole in gun background checks (WCIV)

Lowcountry congressmen are going after what’s known as the “Charleston loophole” in an effort to curb gun violence.

On Thursday, they announced a new piece of legislation to close the loophole. The press conference was held in the very place where it earned its name—the Emanuel AME church. The loophole allowed Dylann Roof to purchase a gun and carry out the Mother Emanuel massacre in June 2015. Roof had a felony drug charge that would have been flagged, but his background check was not completed during the three-day window.

Congressmen James Clyburn and Joe Cunningham are co-sponsoring the bill.

“We’re growing numb, it seems to me,” said House Majority Whip Representative James Clyburn. “Just this week we were reminded once again of how important this kind of legislation is because that gentleman in Illinois, who is not eligible to have a firearm, something got missed in his background check.”

H.R. 1112 calls for a deadline extension on federal background checks for gun buyers. The extension would give law enforcement more time to process background checks, from three days to ten days.

“We’re extending the waiting period from three days to 10 days and if after 10 days we still have not resolved a background check, one who wants to purchase (a gun) can ask for an enhance review,” Clyburn said.

“In 2016 alone, 4,000 fire arms passed into the hands of criminals or people who were mentally ill who should not have had those weapons and who would have been caught if there was adequate amount of time to process their background checks,” Cunningham said.

Several community groups joined the lawmakers on Thursday. Some were parents, teachers, and anti-gun violence advocates.

“Teachers have a front row seat to the fears of our students and I’m here to tell you that they’re still afraid,” Patrick Martin, a Charleston teacher said. “If this bill can save one life it should pass.”

The bill is garnering bi-partisan support. Cunningham said change is long overdue.

“I’m a gun owner but I also realize that if someone comes into a shop and says I need to have a gun right now or I need it within 72-hours, you might want to ask a couple more questions,” said Cunningham.

18 other states have passed legislation to extend the federal wait time.

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