[image-1]As the legislature wraps up work for the year today, proposals that relax state gun laws have been advanced by S.C. politicians while the legal loophole that enabled Dylann Roof to buy the pistol used to kill nine at Emanuel AME remains untouched two years after the mass murder.
Charleston state Senator Marlon Kimpson has been pushing proposals for the last two years that would extend the time the feds have to investigate a prospective gun buyer from three to five days. Roof, the white supremacist who murdered nine black worshippers during Bible study at Emanuel AME, was able to buy a gun because a federal background check wasn’t performed within the maximum three-day period spelled out in federal law.
Since that time, the FBI
After his original proposal didn’t pass last year, Kimpson renewed efforts to gain consensus on some measures to address the loophole. He traveled the state with a bipartisan group of Senate colleagues for a series of town hall meetings to hear from S.C. voters about their thoughts on state gun laws. The widow of slain Sen. Clementa Pinckney was among those who attended the meetings, urging lawmakers to take action.
[image-2] Since those meetings, nearly two years after the Emanuel murders, lawmakers have taken no action to change the law. Kimpson’s measure currently sits stalled in committee, where senators left it last week without considering whether to send it to the floor for debate.
But even before the measure stalled during this year’s legislative session, more than a year after Kimpson’s initial proposal to address the loophole, the general assembly has spent time helping along laws that would make it easier to carry guns in South Carolina.
Those proposals include two separate measures to eliminate requirements for the concealed weapons permits (CWP) currently needed to carry firearms in S.C., a special exception that allows guns to be protected from bankruptcy proceedings, and a proposal to allow permitted gun owners from out of state to legally carry in S.C.
Critics of one of the bills that would have eliminated the need for CWPs say that that bill got preferential treatment by Republicans in the House, putting it on the fast-track through committee and limiting discussion once it got to the floor for debate. The bill, by S.C. Rep. Mike Pitts (R-Laurens) passed with a majority vote in the House and hasn’t been considered in the Senate.
A bill that would allow those going through bankruptcy to keep up to $5,000 worth of guns was one of the proposals closely watched by the NRA’s lobbying organization. Republican state Rep. Alan Clemmons of Myrtle Beach, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, says the bill is designed to shield family heirlooms that could be seized when someone falls on hard times. Senators toned down the bill a bit, limiting the exemption to three guns worth a combined $3,000. Passing both chambers with just three nay votes in the Senate (one from Kimpson), the bill will waits to be ratified by the House before heading to Gov. Henry McMaster’s desk.
The NRA lobbying group lamented that their efforts ‘fell short’ when the broadly-worded bill that would have allowed any other state’s ‘Right-to-Carry’ permits be honored here was amended to include only states that honor South Carolina CWPs. That bill, also by Rep. Clemmons, still expands who can carry in S.C. as it was passed in the House, but it eliminates the possibility of civilians aged 18-20 carrying here regardless of if it is legal in their home state.
The NRA group asked its members for help last week, pointing to two proposals to expand the background check window that “need to be defeated.”
After they adjourn on Thursday, lawmakers won’t return to the Statehouse for regular business again until January 2018, when they’ll pick up where they left off this week.