Senators to push legislation closing 'Charleston Loophole' - Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

Senators to push legislation closing 'Charleston Loophole'

(Source: Live 5 News) (Source: Live 5 News)

Two state senators are set to address the gap in laws that allowed convicted Emanuel AME Church shooter Dylann Roof to buy a pistol in a news conference about gun legislation Wednesday.

Authorities say a background check flagged Dylann Roof — a repeat offender — when he went to buy a gun, but a dealer was allowed to sell one to him after a three-day waiting period. Roof took the gun and killed nine black parishioners at Mother Emanuel, including the senators' colleague, Sen. Clementa Pinckney. 

Legislators have called it the "Charleston Loophole."  

Senators Marlon Kimpson and Greg Gregory have scheduled a news conference at 11 a.m. at the State House in Columbia. They plan to file a bill with several measures to tighten the law, according to a news release:

The first centers on bringing uniformity toward the reporting of dispositions by the SC Court of General Sessions and other lower courts. The bill stipulates that these courts report each case to SLED within ten days. They are also to report within 48 hours the issuance of any restraining orders, orders of protection, orders preventing a person from possessing a firearm, orders issued to prevent acts of domestic violence, or those related to stalking, intimidation or harassment of another person as well as orders for bond.

This will speed up considerably the feeding of pertinent information into the NICS database used to screen persons purchasing firearms from licensed gun dealers in SC. This approach is similar to one taken by the General Assembly several years ago in the passage of legislation requiring the names of citizens adjudicated for mental illness be sent to SLED / NICS. That effort was spurred by the unsuccessful attempt of a mass shooting perpetrated by Alice Boland at Ashley Hall School in Charleston. Ms. Boland had committed crimes that should have prohibited her from purchasing the weapon, but her name had not been sent to the database.  Passage of the legislation has prevented over 1,000 people in the state previously adjudicated for mental illness from purchasing a weapon.

The second component of the bill would extend the potential waiting period for purchasing a firearm from three days to five. Currently a licensed firearms dealer must wait 3 days for results from a NICS screening before transferring a weapon to a buyer. While the vast majority of buyers are approved instantaneously, some are also denied instantaneously because of a disqualifying criminal record. Most importantly, though, are potential buyers who are flagged by the system and a human must look further into their background before authorizing the purchase. Dylann Roof was flagged by the system, but the gun dealer had discretion to sell him the weapon when the purchase was not denied after three days.

In speaking with gun dealers, community members and other interested parties in the districts we represent they do not think the three day period to be an adequate amount of time. Therefore, this bill expands it to five days to complete this critical task, but sunsets that part of the bill within two years after the other changes have been implemented.

A third component of the bill establishes the Judicial Criminal Information Technology Committee to conduct a review of the current state of law enforcement information technology and reporting. Among those serving on the committee will be the Chief Justice of the SC Supreme Court.

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