Photo by Maria Lysenko on Unsplash

Since taking office in 2004, State Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Charleston, has been reliably Republican in his views on gun control, including the right for a person who passes a background check to own a high-capacity assault rifle. But in a wide-ranging Wednesday conversation that touched on topics from the breakdown of the American family and gun buybacks to the practical difficulties in enacting background checks on private gun purchases, the senator said more can — and should — be done. 


The main problem with federal gun background checks, Campsen said, is the database the FBI relies on (the National Instant Criminal Background Check System) is not the more thorough database the bureau actually uses for even routine criminal and security checks. 

“I’m for whatever you can do to improve the federal background check,” he said. “But the truth is, it’s the federal government’s incompetency. They don’t have to stick with this incomplete, insufficient database while in the same building. They have a much more robust database.” 

That more robust database, he said, allows agents and even businesses to look at warrants, orders issued by judges and documents.

“This is what businesses have access to when they do a background check,” Campsen said. “Why does the federal government prohibit that database from being used for the purpose of background checks for purchase of weapons? It’s much more accurate. If that database had been in play, you probably would have realized that Dylann Roof couldn’t have owned the weapon … And it’s still that way today. Why is that?”

When pressed on what he could do about it personally, Campsen replied, “Well, it’s a federal issue. I can’t fix it.”  

“But you can advocate for it,” the City Paper countered, “which you’re doing right now, right?”

“I am. Yep,” responded Campsen.

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