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Emanuel AME pastor joins activists in a call for gun reform - Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

Emanuel AME pastor joins activists in a call for gun reform

The pastor at Mother Emanuel is set to join activists in a news conference to be held in front of the church Wednesday morning. (Source: Lori Stottlemyre) The pastor at Mother Emanuel is set to join activists in a news conference to be held in front of the church Wednesday morning. (Source: Lori Stottlemyre)
Reverend Dr. Betty Deas Clark hugs a member of her congregation after being welcomed as Mother Emanuel's new pastor in January. Reverend Dr. Betty Deas Clark hugs a member of her congregation after being welcomed as Mother Emanuel's new pastor in January.
CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) -

The pastor at Mother Emanuel joined activists in a news conference Wednesday morning at the church, uniting in a call for gun reform. 

"The legislator is talking about who can use which bathroom and we're talking about saving lives in our country," Merrill Chapman, of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said.

Activists, including Chapman, demanded gun control change even as the legislative session winds down. Last year, the FBI admitted that an error in the background check system let suspected shooter Dylann Roof buy a gun. A drug arrest on Roof's record should have prevented the sale of the gun, but the FBI did not catch it in those three days so the sale went on by default.  

Nine lives were lost in a shooting incident at the church on June 17, 2015. 

It's these types of gaps in background checks that activists say they want closed-

"The loopholes must be closed now," Louis Smith, of the Brady Campaign, said.

Several gun control bills were filed in December, including five filed by local Sen. Marlon Kimpson and four by Rep. Wendell Gilliard. The legislation has not held hearings on these bills thus far.

"We're not trying to take away anyone's guns away from them," Pastor Thomas Dixon said. "Nobody's trying to restrict anybody's gun rights. We're just talking about protecting American citizens."

Activists said there's already public support for stricter laws. 

"I had a coworker that was 18-years-old, and he purchased his first firearm very proudly on Craigs List in a parking lot," Jordan Mance, who works down the street from Emanuel AME, said Wednesday. Mance said it's important to protect people's rights to own buts, but "I personally don't think background checks infringe on that."

Advocates are now hoping that hosting a major event on Sunday at Emanuel AME on Sunday will be enough to grab lawmaker's attention. Families of gun violence victims will gather that afternoon in a day of prayer, a panel discussion and a premiere of the film Under the Gun.

"I think to get the legislator to pay attention to us it's going to take days like Sunday," Chapman said. The group expects approximately 500 people from across the state to join Sunday's event. 

"We hope that everyone goes home with the message of closing the loopholes," Chapman said.

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