Congress debates ‘Charleston gun loophole’ bill in DC

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- There’s a push to end the so-called ‘Charleston gun loophole’ across the country. Supporters are pushing to extend gun background checks on Capitol Hill. But as Washington Correspondent Alana Austin reports, this bill faces critics, and an uphill battle.

“Cynthia was my older sister, someone that I love and adore,” said Malcolm Graham.

Graham says his sister was an angel on earth – dedicating her life to service through promoting literacy programs. But in 2015, a gunman cut her life short, killing her – and eight other worshippers – in a Charleston church.

“We just need our elected officials to have some political backbone,” said Graham.

He supports a bill that is seeing momentum in a new Democratic-led US House. HR1112 recently passed; it’s a measure to extend gun background checks from three days to 10 days.

South Carolina Democratic Congressman Joe Cunningham says this bill would give law enforcement more time to ensure a gun isn’t getting into the wrong hands.

“If someone shows up at a gun shop and says I need a gun today, I think we need to ask some questions on why they need a gun that day,” said Cunningham.

But South Carolina GOP Senator Lindsey Graham thinks this bill would not have prevented the shooting in Charleston. He says Dylan Roof’s record should have stopped him from buying a gun, but there was a break-down in the system.

Sen. Lindsey Graham thinks a better plan is to put in place more ‘red flag’ laws – which allow police or family to report people in danger of hurting themselves or others – and a judge could temporarily take away their guns.

“Give due process to the gun owner but there's got to be a way for the law enforcement community and families to alert the courts of dangers,” said the Senator.

On the background check bill, the National Rifle Association says it could backfire. Spokeswoman Amy Hunter says the waiting period could drag out to about a month, which could put some in danger, like domestic violence victims, needing a gun quickly for self-defense.

“It’s a bill that simply makes it harder for gun owners, for law-abiding people to get their firearms,” said Hunter.

The bill is unlikely to clear the Republican-majority Senate or survive a potential veto from the President.

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