GREENVILLE COUNTY, S.C. – The Greenville County Council Chambers packed with impassioned residents Thursday.
“This isn’t a gun problem, it’s a sin problem,” said Tommy Dimsdale, with the Spartanburg Republican Party.
The wife of a man gunned down in a church disagrees.
“Here lived an honorable man that died a tragic death due to a bullet from a gun a man should not have had in the beginning,” said Jennifer Pinckney, widow of the late Senator Clementa Pinckney. She was the first speaker at the Gun Issues Special Committee hearing before South Carolina Senators.
“Clementa’s death can teach us lessons that can make our society safer.”
This was one the first of several meetings across South Carolina to hear what residents have to say about one of the state’s most sensitive topics.
“We know that guns do save lives,” said Resident Roy Harmon.
Almost 80 people signed up to speak. Some suggested expanding background checks for gun purchases.
“The single most important thing we can do to reduce gun violence in Greenville is to close loopholes in our background check system,” said Greenville resident, Sarah Lindley.
“I believe that giving law enforcement a maximum of 28 days to do background checks is reasonable to ensure that those who should not be able to buy a firearm do not,” said Pinckney.
Greenville Police Chief Ken Miller even chimed in, saying guns need to be registered to help track the stolen ones being used by criminals.
“Those are the weapons that kill us,” he said.
Others said they fear any more oversight would infringe on their second amendment rights.
“Every citizen, without any restrictions, should be able to protect themselves no matter what,” said one speaker.
There are 3 other public hearings across the state before the end of this year. The next one takes place in Charleston on October 3rd.