Where 2-state lawmakers stand after House supports changes in gun sales

From left: Rep. Jim Clyburn and Rep. Rick Allen.
From left: Rep. Jim Clyburn and Rep. Rick Allen.(WRDW)
Published: Mar. 11, 2021 at 4:52 PM EST
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WASHINGTON - Emboldened by their majorities in the House and Senate, Democrats are making a new push to enact the first major new gun control laws in more than two decades and they’re starting with stricter background checks.

Members of Congress from the two-state region have differing views on the matter, depending on their political party.

The House passed two bills Thursday to require background checks on all firearms sales and transfers and to allow an expanded 10-day review for gun purchases.

The first bill is designed to close loopholes to ensure that background checks are extended to private and online sales that often go undetected, including at gun shows. The legislation includes limited exceptions allowing temporary transfers to prevent imminent harm, for use at a target range and for gifts from family, among others.

Clyburn plays key role

The second bill would extend the review period for background checks from three to 10 days. South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, the No. 3 Democrat in the House, introduced the legislation after Dylann Roof killed nine people at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston during a Bible study in June 2015.

The FBI said a background check examiner never saw Roof’s previous arrest report because the wrong arresting agency was listed in state criminal history records, and the gun dealer was legally permitted to complete the transaction after a deadline of three days.

Speaking on the House floor in 2019, Clyburn said they found out after five days that Roof was not eligible to purchase the gun, but said that by then, it was too late.

After the bill’s passage Thursday, Clyburn posted a message on Twitter to the Emanuel 9 families.

“I am emotional today for the families and friends of the Emanuel Nine, several of who were my constituents,” he said on the platform. “They have been waiting for years to see the ‘Charleston loophole’ closed. Today’s vote moves us one step closer to making gun ownership safer.”

Similar bills were passed by the House in 2019, shortly after Democrats won the majority, but languished in the GOP-controlled Senate for the next two years.

Democrats now hold the Senate, as well, but the bills would need significant bipartisan support to pass.

Reaction from Rick Allen

U.S. Rep. Rick W. Allen, R-Augusta, slammed the legislation.

”Federal firearm laws are already very strong in ensuring prohibited persons do not purchase firearms, but criminals don’t abide by the law,” he said in a statement.

“Studies show mass background checks won’t do anything to address gun violence or keep criminals from obtaining an illegal firearm, and these bills will only make it harder for Americans to protect themselves. Specifically they will criminalize the transfer of firearms between two private citizens and add red-tape to the process in which law-abiding citizens purchase a firearm. As a proud supporter of the Second Amendment, I will continue to protect the right to bear arms.”

From reports by The Associated Press, WCSC and WRDW/WAGT