S.C. gun safety advocacy group seeks middle ground to curb tragedies

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By Lindsay Street, Statehouse correspondent  |  A gun safety lobbying group founded in 2015 after South Carolina’s mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston  is still struggling to get lawmakers to listen.

Arm-in-Arm, a South Carolina grassroots group, said it is having trouble despite 2015 and 2016 polls showing more than 80 percent of South Carolinians favor stricter background checks on gun purchases.

“It’s reckless and irresponsible for South Carolina to not have reasonable laws that prevent people from getting guns if they should not have them in the first place,” spokesman Meghan Trezies said in an email exchange with Statehouse Report. “The biggest battle is to be heard.

The subject is so immediately polarizing, with very divisive prepositioned rhetoric that people fall back on … There is middle ground that can be explored, yet which is not. Our goal is to get there.”

As back-to-back mass shootings grab national headlines with the tragedies in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, Arm-in-Arm is continuing its effort to push for federal and state legislation. The group is backing six pieces of legislation at the state level this session, including a bill that expands background checks, which is sitting dormant in S.C. House Judiciary Committee after receiving  first reading in January.

Here are some the bills they are backing:

“We’re striving for policy that improves public safety,” Trezies said. “Tightening of the background check system will improve this, and will not impinge on the ability to lawfully acquire firearms.”

On Wednesday, Arm-in-Arm launched five days of action in the wake of the Texas mass shooting. The first two days asked members to invite friends and doctors to a presentation entitled “Behind the Bullets” 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 14, at Charleston Library Society, and educate others about the firearms bills in the S.C. legislature and at the federal level.

 

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