House passes bill to expand background checks for gun sales

South Carolina lawmakers are expected to begin debate as early as Thursday on a law that would...
South Carolina lawmakers are expected to begin debate as early as Thursday on a law that would allow residents with a concealed weapons permit to openly carry handguns.(Live 5/File)
Updated: Mar. 11, 2021 at 1:21 PM EST
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WASHINGTON (WCSC/AP) - Emboldened by their majorities in the House and Senate, Democrats are making a new push to enact the first major new gun control laws in more than two decades and they’re starting with stricter background checks.

The House passed two bills Thursday to require background checks on all firearms sales and transfers and to allow an expanded 10-day review for gun purchases.

The first bill is designed to close loopholes to ensure that background checks are extended to private and online sales that often go undetected, including at gun shows. The legislation includes limited exceptions allowing temporary transfers to prevent imminent harm, for use at a target range and for gifts from family, among others.

The second bill would extend the review period for background checks from three to 10 days. South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, the No. 3 Democrat in the House, introduced the legislation after Dylann Roof killed nine people at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston during a Bible study in June 2015.

The FBI said a background check examiner never saw Roof’s previous arrest report because the wrong arresting agency was listed in state criminal history records, and the gun dealer was legally permitted to complete the transaction after a deadline of three days.

Speaking on the House floor in 2019, Clyburn said they found out after five days that Roof was not eligible to purchase the gun, but said that by then, it was too late.

After the bill’s passage Thursday, Clyburn posted a message on Twitter to the Emanuel 9 families.

“I am emotional today for the families and friends of the Emanuel Nine, several of who were my constituents,” he said on the platform. “They have been waiting for years to see the ‘Charleston loophole’ closed. Today’s vote moves us one step closer to making gun ownership safer.”

Similar bills were passed by the House in 2019, shortly after Democrats won the majority, but languished in the GOP-controlled Senate for the next two years.

Democrats now hold the Senate, as well, but the bills would need significant bipartisan support to pass.

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