Bill aims to strengthen South Carolina background checks

SC BILL PKG

COLUMBIA, SC (WTOC) -Senator Marlon Kimpson (D-Charleston) and Senator Greg Gregory (R-Lancaster) are co-sponsoring S.154. Last year, a similar bill, S.516, lingered in the Senate Judiciary Committee and did not make it to the floor.

They are hoping this is not the case this year.

The goal of the bill is to extend the wait time for FBI background checks from three days to five days in South Carolina.

Right now, federally licensed firearm dealers can sell a gun to someone if there is a delayed response from the FBI. A gun can be purchased while they conduct a background check using the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Sen. Kimpson says, “Gun owners should applaud this legislation. The only people who should fear this legislation are people who should not have guns.”

The bill is hoping to streamline the reporting of crimes to the state’s database.

S.154 wants to:

  • extend the waiting period for the F.B.I. national instant criminal background check system from 3 to 5 days.
  • require clerks of courts, magistrates, and municipal judges to report dispositions of criminal cases within 10 days to S.L.E.D.
  • law enforcement must report any incident in which a person may be prohibited from obtaining a firearm by state or federal within 24 hours to S.L.E.D. 

In April 2015, Dylann Roof was able to purchase a firearm despite being arrested for drug possession earlier in the year. Roof had admitted to the drug possession but that was not properly reported. An error in his records caused some delays to the FBI background check process. Three days had passed and Roof was able to purchase the gun.

In June 2015, Roof murdered 9 people, including a state senator, at a Charleston church in 2015. Roof was able to legally buy his gun after three days even though his background check had not been completed.

According to data from the FBI, 4864 prohibited purchasers were able to buy guns (https://www.fbi.gov/file-repository/2017-nics-operations-report.pdf/view). Those are confirmed transactions. 1,140 other transactions could not be confirmed.

Those who are opposed to the bill say the extra 48 hours will not make a difference.

The Lowcountry Students for Political Action organization held a rally at the State House Thursday.

A companion bill has been filed in the House as well.

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