Students prepare for Columbia rally to close ‘Charleston Loophole’

VIDEO: Students prepare for Columbia rally to close ‘Charleston Loophole’

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Students are preparing for a rally organized by Lowcountry Students for Political Action where they will advocate in support of a bill that would close what legislators are calling the Charleston Loophole.

Senate Bill 154 addresses the federal rule that gives the FBI three days to conduct a background check on someone who wants to buy a gun. Currently, the law allows people to buy guns if the background check is not conducted after three days.

The bill would increase that waiting period from three to five days.

“It’s comprehensive gun reform, one that we need desperately in this state,” Lowcountry Students for Political Action representative Arell Tree said. “We’re trying to save as many people as we can just by extending the deadline.”

Legislators have called the bill the Charleston Loophole because this law is how Dylann Roof was able to purchase the gun before the Mother Emanuel shooting in 2015.

LSPA students said they’re hoping that by rallying at the end of the month, they will encourage lawmakers to move forward with the bill quickly.

But some gun rights advocates said the bill will not make any difference, so it’s not worth even trying to push it through.

“If they can’t get what they need to have done in three working days, five working days isn’t going to make any difference either,” ATP Gun Shop and Range Owner Arlyn Pendergast said.

Pendergast said the bill does not focus on what he thinks is the real issue.

“The whole key is to work toward getting the records correct for the FBI to make a decision,” Pendergast said. “Once they have the information, they can make a decision fast.”

The students said regardless of what happens with the bill, they have been encouraged by the dedication they have seen from young voters like them.

“They’re trying to get as much done as possible in such a short amount of time and it’s really awe-inspiring,” Tee said.

The rally is scheduled for Jan. 31 at 11 a.m. at the South Carolina State House in Columbia.

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