By Judy Hines, special to Statehouse Report | A window of opportunity to effect change in gun violence in South Carolina has opened with the referral of several gun-related bills to Senate subcommittees. Immediate action from citizens to legislators in support of key bills will make the difference. This is the first time bills designed to tackle the problem of gun violence have reached subcommittee consideration since the Emanuel Nine shootings in 2015.
After those shootings, citizens formed a group that sought universal background checks for gun purchases to ensure that only people who lawfully can own guns get to buy them. Right now in South Carolina and many states, loopholes in the law allow unlicensed dealers to sell guns at gun shows, flea markets and online without requiring a background check.
Statistically, background checks do more to reduce law enforcement deaths, gun suicides and other losses due to gun violence than any other known means of stemming what has become a national public health epidemic. South Carolina is one of the states with the highest incidence per capita of violent gun deaths. This is a public health epidemic and needs solutions in the form of prevention and reduction of contagion. The group is ARM-in-ARM, which is the new name of the group originally called Gun Sense SC. It is a proactive, non-partisan group focused on passing positive, reform-oriented legislation.
Aware of the public health nature of the problem, our group has sought to get systemic legislative remedies adopted with particular emphasis on universal background checks. After two years of working with legislators and pursuing the goal that 84 percent of South Carolinians say they want — background checks on all gun purchases — we have finally reached a milestone. Legislation has reached subcommittee consideration in the S.C. Senate for the first time. Without referral to a subcommittee, there is no chance of a bill moving forward.
For the bills that we support to gain traction, there must be major grassroots support. Calls to the members of the subcommittees are essential for these bills to move forward. While the bills are not perfect, they represent major positive steps. The legislators must see a groundswell of support. We need YOUR voice to speak out about the necessity of these bills. They must hear this from you!
Please tell them you advocate for passage of the following legislation:
Expedite information sharing. S. 516 will expedite state criminal information sharing to the federal background check system. This bill will also extend the state background check ‘delay’ period from 3 to 5 days while the accelerated info sharing system is set up. The five day extension is the weakest part of this bill, but the overall bill deserves and has bipartisan support.
Extending the background delay: S. 159 would extend the criminal background check ‘delay’ period from 3 to 28 days.
- Sen. Ross Turner, R-Greenville, (803) 212-6148
- Sen. Wes Climer, R-York, (803) 212-6016
- Stephen Goldfinch, R-Georgetown, (803) 212-6116
- Marlon Kimpson, D, Charleston, (803) 212-6132
Judy Hines, a former CEO of a national accrediting body, the Council on Accreditation. Now retired in Charleston, she is secretary of the advocacy organization, ARM-IN-ARM.
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