The pastor of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston was in Columbia to testify Tuesday before a state Senate subcommittee in favor of extended deadlines on background checks for gun purchases.
“This bill, which you are doing, I do applaud,” Pastor Eric Manning said. “I do thank you very much, of course, from the members of Mother Emanuel (AME Church), we thank you for taking that initial step.”
A gunman shot and killed nine African-American parishioners during a Bible study at Mother Emanuel in June 2015. The FBI later admitted the shooter Dylann Roof should not have been able to purchase the gun, but communication errors led the agency to halt its investigation once the required three-day maximum for background checks expired.
The Senate bill under consideration would extend the time allowed for a background check to five days. It also gives courts more time to notify SLED if a court rules someone is prohibited from possessing a gun or buying one. Click here to read the bill.
“We owe it to our fallen colleagues, our friends,” Manning said. “We owe it to future generations to begin to discuss about the various gun laws that can be affected and that can be impacted.”
Manning told the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee the bill is a start, although he believes more legislation is necessary to prevent guns from getting into the hands of people who will commit bad acts with them.
“We do know there are a lot of things that have to be done but this is the beginning,” he told the panel. “I know there are many who say it doesn’t go far enough. It doesn’t do what they wanted it to do. But it does something.”
The measure would also require all court clerks report restraining orders, personal gun bans, orders of protection and stalking/harassing convictions to state authorities within 48 hours. The State Law Enforcement Division would submit the information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) used by gun dealers to know if a prospective buyer is legal.
“There is a lot of work that has to be done and I know that this is just the beginning and I would hope and pray that as we continue to work together that we would begin to make not only our communities much safer, our churches much safer. Our schools much safer,” Manning said. “The only thing that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men and women to sit around and do nothing.”