The South Carolina Senate’s Special Gun Issues Study Committee last year heard testimony from hundreds of citizens on firearm laws and how they should be changed, if at all.
In particular, interest focused on what’s become known as the “Charleston Loophole” — or a gap in gun sale laws that allowed Dylann Roof to buy the weapon he used to carry out the Emanuel AME Church massacre in June 2015.
Roof was not allowed to buy a gun due to a previous arrest — but was able to make the purchase when an FBI background check could not track down his arrest record due to documentation errors at the local level.
State Sen. Greg Gregory, R-Lancaster, said the hope is to close the loophole. “To look at gun laws in South Carolina in light of the tragedy at Mother Emanuel AME Church that claimed the life of our beloved colleague Sen. Clementa Pinckney,” he said Wednesday.
The “loophole” is used to describe how the FBI had a maximum three days to hold up Roof’s purchase while it checked into his background. The FBI dropped its hold once the three days elapsed.
Gregory said the proposal would change the background check waiting period from three to five days. It would also require courts report all necessary criminal information within ten days towards the State Law Enforcement Division database used for gun background checks.
The committee held public hearings on the issue. “We took testimony and we heard quite divergent opinions about guns in South Carolina,’ Gregory said. “Took testimony from probably over 300 people from those public hearings.”
Five-day waiting periods would only be temporary, however. Another change in the bill would create a panel of judges and prosecutors to help ensure better and more timely reporting into the state database for the next two years. Once their work is complete, the law would revert back to the three-day limit.