Everytown, Moms Demand Action Applaud Rep. Clyburn’s Legislation to Close “Charleston Loophole” That Allowed Charleston Shooter to Obtain Gun Without a Complete Background Check

Legislation Would Prohibit Firearms Dealers from Selling a Gun Prior To Completing a Background Check

WASHINGTON – Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a part of Everytown, today applauded Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) for reintroducing the “Background Check Completion Act,” which would close the “Charleston loophole” by stopping retailers from selling guns before a background check on a buyer is completed.

In 2015, an incomplete background check allowed the Charleston shooter to buy the gun he used to kill nine worshippers attending a bible study at Emanuel AME Church. Under the law, the shooter should have been barred from purchasing the gun, but a procedural loophole allowed him to buy the gun from a licensed seller before his background check had been completed. The Background Check Completion Act would close this NRA-backed loophole, and keep more guns out of criminal hands.

In 2016, at the urging of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America volunteers and gun violence survivors, Delaware lawmakers enacted HB 325, which closed the “Charleston Loophole” in that state.

STATEMENT FROM JOHN FEINBLATT, PRESIDENT OF EVERYTOWN FOR GUN SAFETY:

“The vast majority of Americans across the political spectrum agree: it’s time to close this NRA-backed loophole that makes it far too easy for criminals to get guns through incomplete background checks. Rep. Clyburn’s legislation would improve the criminal background check system by barring retailers from greenlighting gun sales until a full background check has been completed, a common-sense fix that will keep thousands of guns out of the hands of convicted felons, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill.”

STATEMENT FROM SHARON RISHER, A MEMBER OF THE EVERYTOWN SURVIVOR NETWORK WHOSE MOTHER AND TWO COUSINS WERE SHOT AND KILLED IN THE 2015 EMANUEL AME SHOOTING IN CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA:

“Two years ago my mother and cousins were gunned down by a white supremacist during a prayer service at their beloved Mother Emanuel Church. That hate-filled man never should have gotten his hands on a gun, and yet, through a loophole, he was able to arm himself and take the lives of nine beautiful church-goers, peacefully in prayer. If a full background check had been completed, my mother, cousins and six other loved ones would still be alive today. No family should have to live with the pain of having a loved one taken by senseless and preventable gun violence. It is high time for Congress to pass Rep. Jim Clyburn’s legislation to shut down the Charleston Loophole, properly enforce our background checks system and keep guns out of the hands of people with hateful intentions.”

Between 2010 and 2016, the Charleston loophole allowed nearly 23,000 gun sales to dangerous people who would have failed a criminal background check because the check could not be completed within three business days. After the three-day period has expired, federal law allows gun stores to sell a gun to a prospective buyer, even though the background check is not complete (Fact sheet on the Charleston shooting is available HERE, and the latest data on the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and default proceeds is available HERE.

While retailers are legally allowed to sell guns after the three-day clock has expired, in 2015, responsible retailers including Walmart and Big 5 Sporting Goods exercised their legal right and a corporate responsibility to not proceed with a gun sale until a background check is completed. In 2008, Walmart worked with Mayors Against Illegal Guns, now part of Everytown, to develop and agree to the Responsible Firearms Retailer Partnership, a ten-point code to help ensure felons, domestic abusers and people with dangerous mental illnesses do not obtain guns, including no sales without a completed background check.

Background checks that have been completed have blocked more than two million sales to people who failed a background check, and have saved countless lives. More information on background checks is available here: www.everytownresearch.org.