WASHINGTON, DC (WCSC) - President Barack Obama touched on a number of topics relating to South Carolina on Wednesday in a special one-on-one interview with Live 5 News anchor Debi Chard.
Chard was selected as one of eight local news reporters around the United States to interview the president in the White House on Wednesday. During the interview, Chard spoke with President Obama on issues relating to residents of South Carolina.
An ongoing hot topic issue in the state has centered on a proposed bill that would restrict those with mental illnesses from purchasing firearms through a more strenuous background check. The president acknowledged this is a sensitive issue, but one that could work if approached correctly.
"We want to make sure that we are respecting people's privacy. We want to encourage people to get mental health service," the president told Chard. "But what we also know is that background checks can work if they are done properly."
The new legislation comes after an incident at Ashley Hall on Feb. 4 when 28-year-old Beaufort woman Alice Boland, who had documented mental health issues, was able to legally purchase a handgun days before authorities say she tried to commit murder outside the private, all-girls' school in downtown Charleston.
"What happened in South Carolina is indicative of the problem we still have with our background check systems," said President Obama. "There are too many gaps, too many loopholes. States don't share information with the federal government and some of the times federal agencies don't share information into a single database that is accurate."
Obama said he has already used executive orders to try to tighten up issues with background checks as they pertain to guns, but said "ultimately we are going to need congress to act."
"That is part of the package of common sense rules that respect the 2nd amendment that I think we can put in place, and most responsible gun owners agree with me," said the president.
Chard also spoke with President Obama about rising gas prices in Charleston.
"Gas prices continue to be an ongoing problem," said Obama. "I'm proud of the fact that under my administration, oil production is higher than it has been in a decade or more. We have seen a doubling of fuel efficiency standards on cars over the next several years, so that is saving people money at the pump."
The president said one of the things that must happen in order to lower gas prices is to make the "overall economy use less oil."
"Unfortunately because of world-wide demand, oil prices are going to keep going up and down until we put in place some of the energy saving proposals I talked about in the State of the Union," Obama said.
Although Obama said he does not tend to "weigh in" on primary races, he did offer a few words in regards to South Carolina's 1st Congressional District seat.
"I trust the folks in that district are going to make a good choice," said the president. "Certainly once the primary is over I'll be supporting the democrat down there. It's one of the great things about our democracy that anybody who is eligible can run and the people make up their minds.
"I'm sure it will be a spirited contest down there," said President Obama.