UPDATE | South Carolina Representative on new gun regulation: "It's going to take time"

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Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018
(News 12 NBC 26 News At 11)

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) -- As the pressure rises for local lawmakers to pass gun legislation, retailers around the country are changing the way they sell weapons in their stores and online.

Customers will now have to be 21 years old to purchase firearms at both Walmart and Dick's retail chains. Walmart says their decision comes after reviewing its firearm sales policy in light of the deadly high school shooting in Florida and will also remove weapons resembling assault-style rifles from its website.

Walmart banned the sale of AR-15s and other semi-automatic weapons in 2015, but does not sell large-capacity magazines.

Dick's Sporting Goods said they will stop all sales of assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines. They released a statement saying they had to do something and called gun violence, "an epidemic that's taking the lives of too many people, including the brightest hope for the future of America: our kids."

The next step involves lawmakers as advocates push for new laws and stricter regulations, but they say they've got their work cut out for them. In this case, hundreds of plans on the table even before the Florida shooting two weeks ago.

Many proposals are centered around topics like reforming background checks to outright banning some guns, but one local state representative says real change is still going to take time.

It takes just a split second for a bullet to hit a target. But South Carolina District 83 Representative Bill Hixon says passing any new laws in the wake of the Florida shooting won't be near as fast.

"There are over a hundred proposed bills that have been put up for this session," Representative Hixon says, "and there's about ten or twenty that have jumped up on there since the shooting in Florida."

Bills on both sides of the river proposing bans on assault rifles, bump stocks and extended magazines while increasing the age limit to buy a rifle from 18 years of to 21 and bumping up the guns-sales waiting time up two days. But Representative Hixon says most bills that make it to a vote likely won't get much traction.

"Bump stocks? That won't pass in our state. As far as taking clips, big clips away? That won't pass in our state," Representative Hixon says. "I want to do the right thing, but not taking guns away from people. That's not the right thing."

One thing lamwakers in both states seem to support is increasing background checks to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. Hixon supports it, saying background checks failed with Dylann Roof in Charleston and the shooting in Florida.

"The gun didn't walk in that school by itself," Representative Hixon says. "A person carried that gun in that school, something was wrong with that person and had an axe to grind with a bunch of those people in there. And you see that in all the other cases, the person had something wrong with them."

Representative Hixon is sponsoring a bill that would allow local boards of education to designate their own employees as school resource officers, but those employees would need to go through training just like normal police officers would before they're allowed to carry on campus. But like many of these plans, there are no guarantees they will ever become law.

Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018
(News 12 at 5:30)

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – Dick’s Sporting Goods is making changes to the type of guns it sells and is also no longer selling guns to anyone under the age of 21, regardless of federal laws.

With a big store making big changes, I spoke with two gun store owners who say they are not making any changes, but they wouldn’t mind seeing more restrictions when it comes to background checks.

“There’s already 27,000 gun laws in the United States proper as of today, what they need to truly do is enforce the laws and make crime and punishment work.”

Steve Fishman, the president of Sidney’s says stopping sales isn’t the answer to gun control, more punishment is.

“If you have someone involved in a gun crime and he’s caught with a firearm in the commission of a crime, you need to put him in jail for a very, very long time.”

After the Florida high school shooting, the topic of gun control is hotter than before. Dick’s Sporting Goods says it will no longer sell modern sporting rifles, but Fishman isn’t on the same page.

“We are not going to punish our customers by restricting the sale of any legal firearm.”

Palmetto Arsenal gun store owner Stephen Bayzes says he’s not stopping either.

Alexa: Are you going to make any changes?
Bayzes: No.

When someone comes in to purchase a gun, store owners have to put them through a process.

“I need your driver’s license, you’ve got to fill out a 4473 form, we run an FBI NICS check, the NICS check turns around and gives us a yes or no, or delay and then at that point you walk out the door with a firearm.”

NICS stands for National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Bayzes says this database could be the answer to gun control if the government closes the loopholes by adding more than just someone’s arrest in the system.

"If he's not arrested, it goes into a file, it doesn't go into a database, just a simple police report doesn't generate a database on that person."

Bayzes says police reports need to be in the system. Fishman believes there’s another problem with NICS.

“The biggest problem with that system is it doesn’t have every doctor’s report on mental health.

But because of patient privacy acts, Fishman says he doesn’t know if that would ever be possible.

The federal law says you have to be at least 18 to purchase a shotgun or a rifle, like the AR-15. But you have to be 21 to purchase a handgun, which can be a pistol or a revolver. The guys I talked to say they plan to keep their age at the federal minimum, 18 years old.