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ICYMI: Under NRA-Backed SHARE Act, Confessed South Carolina Serial Killer Could Have Purchased Silencers without a Background Check

October 17, 2017

As some House Republicans renew a push to roll back silencer safety laws by passing the SHARE Act, The Trace reports this morning that a South Carolina serial killer, who confessed last year to killing seven people, acquired five gun silencers by having a “straw purchaser” pass the background check and buy the silencers on his behalf. Prosecutors indicted the straw purchaser late last week.

According to the Trace, the shooter “would not have been able to buy the firearms or suppressors from a gun store himself. He was disqualified from gun ownership by a serious criminal record stretching back decades, and had served 14 years in prison for kidnapping a teenage girl in 1986.”

Why this matters: Under current federal law, in order to purchase a silencer a person must pass a background check—no matter the circumstances. In this case, the shooter used a straw purchaser to purchase gun silencers in order to avoid a background check, which he could not pass due to his felony record. However, if the NRA-backed SHARE Act had been in effect, the same man could have easily purchased five silencers himself in South Carolina, without a background check, simply by finding an unlicensed seller. Rolling back silencer safety laws would make it easy for people with criminal histories, like the South Carolina serial killer, to obtain silencers without passing a background check.

Even after the mass shooting in Las Vegas, House Republican lawmakers and leadership aides confirmed to McClatchy that they still hope to hold a floor vote on the SHARE Act without removing the language to roll back silencer safety laws to, as the report puts it, “score a win for one of the largest financial backers, the National Rifle Association.” Additionally, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has refused to say if, or when, he will schedule a vote on the NRA-backed SHARE Act.

More information about the proposed legislation to gut silencer safety laws is available here. If you have additional questions about this dangerous legislation, don’t hesitate to reach out.


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