Senators Aim to Close "Charleston Loophole"

Bill aims to close "Charleston Loophole"

Columbia, SC (WLTX)- A bipartisan group of senators came together on Wednesday to announce their bill to strengthen background checks to keep illegitimate gun owners from obtaining a firearm.

The bill comes after a traveling committee gathered testimony from various cities throughout the state in the off session, finding the best way to draft gun reform following the Charleston Church Shooting.

The "Charleston Loophole" refers to how shooter Dylann Roof was able to obtain his gun, after not immediately passing the background check. With no response from the federal government or law enforcement within the 3-day waiting period, Roof was able to purchase the gun he used to carry out his attacks.

"Will it have prevented Dylann Roof from buying a gun? I can't answer that question, but I can tell you is that one of the problems was folks at the federal level were confused as to where to research the substance of the crime," Sen. Marlon Kimpson said. "So this effort is to improve reporting, not just about time limitations but also the substance of what's being reported."

This bill would require courts to report more to law enforcement. Offenses like domestic violence arrests and restraining orders would be required to be entered into the system.

It would also extend the waiting period from 3 days to 5, and require law enforcement agencies to report back within 24 hours.

"99 percent of background checks are cleared within 10 minutes," Sen. Greg Hembree said. "That one percent though, there can be either a flag that says your prohibited or a flag that says there is a question."

The bill would set up a committee to flush out the details. After the rules are implemented for 2 years, the waiting period would go back down to 3 days. 

Hembree also proposed legislation that would create offenses and penalties for those who are trying to illegally buy a gun. 

"The vast majority of the shootings that take place- the gun violence that takes place in South Carolina, it occurs by somebody who is already a convicted felon, and somebody who obtained that gun illegally," Hembree said. 

© 2017 WLTX-TV


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