Charleston activists to visit Congress to push for gun control legislation

A relative of a Charleston shooting victim along with other gun control activists will be on Capitol Hill Wednesday. Photo by Jim Young/Reuters
A relative of a Charleston shooting victim along with other gun control activists will be on Capitol Hill Wednesday. Photo by Jim Young/Reuters

WASHINGTON — A relative of one victim of the mass church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, and other activists from the city are coming to the Capitol on Wednesday to try doing what others have failed to achieve before: Pressure lawmakers to approve gun control legislation.

The visitors are planning a news conference with lawmakers and leaders of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence at which they will press Congress to vote on legislation expanding required background checks for firearms buyers at gun shows and online.

Their chances of success seem bleak. Similar bills have gone nowhere in Congress, despite repeated lobbying by victims’ families from the 2012 slaying of 26 children and educators in Newtown, Connecticut, and by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., who was badly wounded in a 2011 shooting that killed six.

So far, the Charleston killings have prompted little serious activity in Congress related to firearms restrictions.

The group from Charleston is coming exactly three weeks after Dylann Storm Roof allegedly murdered nine black parishioners at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church. Roof, who is white, faces nine counts of murder and other charges.

The visitors will include Andre Duncan of Charleston, nephew of Myra Thompson, 59, a member of a bible study group that was meeting at the historically black church when the nine were slain.

The shooting and pictures of Roof with Confederate flags have prompted some lawmakers to move toward restricting public displays of the banner in Southern states.

On Tuesday, the South Carolina Senate voted to remove the Confederate flag from a pole in front of the Statehouse. The measure still must be approved by the state House.

The city council of Mobile, Alabama, voted Tuesday to remove the Confederate banner from the city’s official seal.

In 2013, just months after the Newtown killings, the Democratic-run Senate fell short of approving a bill expanding background checks and imposing other gun curbs. The Republican-run House never took up such legislation.

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