Families impacted by gun violence unite at Mother Emanuel calling for gun reform

VIDEO: Families impacted by gun violence unite at Mother Emanuel calling for gun reform
Published: Apr. 25, 2016 at 1:46 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 31, 2016 at 2:23 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Families impacted by gun violence are pushing for gun reform. On Sunday they filled Mother Emanuel AME Church for a discussion on closing the gun purchasing loopholes. Activists and church leaders say they are calling on legislators to help keep the guns out of the wrong hands.

At the program family members and friends brought buttons, t-shirts and posters with photos of their loved ones whose lives were taken by gun violence. They united together and shared their stories including children being shot while trying to have a good time and getting caught in the line of fire.

Survivor Melody McFadden says no one has been arrested for the murder of her niece. That same shooting took the lives of two other people.

"My niece died a year and half ago on Myrtle Beach during Black Biker Week," she said. "This is not our first time, this is numerous times of gun violence in our family."

Another survivor, Gwen Reed shared how gun violence has impacted her life.

"My father was killed when I was 11 by gun violence," Reed said. "Three years ago my sister was also murdered by gun violence."

Families from the across the state came together at Mother Emanuel AME Church. They along with community activists and church leaders are pushing to close loopholes in background checks for gun purchases.

Co-Presidents of the local chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Merrill Chapman and Louis Smith helped host this event.

"If we closed the loopholes there would be no Dylan Roof, there would be no trial, we wouldn't need to be here having a program," Chapman said.

Last year, the FBI admitted that an error in the background check system allowed the suspected shooter, that killed nine at Mother Emanuel AME, to buy a gun.

The pastor of Emanuel AME, Dr. Betty Deas Clark delivered a sermon at the program. She joined activists in the call for gun reform.

"There have been 50  that have been introduced in regards to gun legislation and none of them have seen the light of day, that needs to change now," said Smith.

One of those proposals would extend the required wait for a background check from three days to 28 days. Senator Marlon Kimpson is cosponsoring this bill. He also created a bill that would require a federal background check in addition to a background check by the South Carolina Enforcement Division (SLED) to purchase a gun.  He's pushing to close loopholes for gun sales on the internet and through flea markets.

Many remain hopeful today's gathering will spark a widespread change among state lawmakers including Charleston leader of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Jackie Shelley.

"That the legislatures in Columbia will see that we're all working together here in Charleston and hopefully they can do that in Columbia and make sure the Charleston loophole is closed this year," Shelley said.

"This has been tremendous for us to come to Emanuel," Smith said. "For Mother Emanuel to open their arms to us and say hey we are suffering and we know other people are suffering and we just want to let the world know that all of us are in this together, under God's love."

After the discussion, those who came out watched the documentary Under the Gun about the state of American's gun violence and gun control laws.

The event was hosted by the local chapters of the the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

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