COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – South Carolina lawmakers introduced several gun-related bills this year, but the only one that passed is one to allow concealed weapons permit holders from Georgia to carry their guns here. The sponsors of the bills that failed plan to file them again next year, especially after the recent Orlando massacre.
Sen. Marlon Kimpson, D-Charleston, sponsored several of the bills to put new restrictions on guns. One of his bills would have banned assault weapons, defined in the bill as, “semi-automatic firearms with a large magazine of ammunition that are designed and configured for rapid fire and combat use. This term does not apply to firearms used for hunting and sporting.”
Another bill would expand criminal background checks to close what’s become known as “the Charleston loophole.” Accused Charleston Mother Emanuel church shooter Dylann Roof was able to buy a handgun because 72 hours had passed after the background check was started. There was a delay in finishing the check because of a clerical mistake, so the gun dealer was legally allowed to sell the gun to Roof. However, if the background check had been completed, a previous arrest would have prevented him from buying the gun.
Sen. Kimpson sponsored one of several bills to close that loophole. He will introduce that bill and an assault weapons ban again next year. “While banning assault weapons is a high priority for me, a higher priority for me is the expanded background check bill, because I believe that’s something we may be able to get done next legislative session,” he says.
Rep. Wendell Gilliard, D-Charleston, sponsored another bill that would have banned assault rifles. “These guns are more powerful, they’re more accurate, and they can take out literally dozens of people in a couple of minutes. We don’t need that. We need that in the military. That’s where that weapon belongs,” he says.
Those bills never made it out of committee, but Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has promised that the committee will hold a public hearing later this summer on the idea of strengthening background checks.
And while lawmakers showed no interest in making gun laws tougher, they also rejected bills to make it easier to carry a gun. One bill would have allowed anyone who can legally buy a gun to carry it without needing a concealed weapons permit. It also failed.