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Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords Praises House Passage of Charleston Loophole: “Now, we have an opportunity to honor the nine lives lost that day”

 Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, founder of the gun safety group Giffords, praised congressional leaders for their dedication to addressing gun violence by passing the Enhanced Backgrounds Check Act sponsored by Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC). This bill addresses the deadly loophole in existing law which was exploited by the white supremacist who killed nine people at the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Similar legislation was introduced by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) in the Senate. 

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords: 

“America will never forget what happened at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. This place of peace and prayer was turned into a scene of terror. It remains a painful reminder of yet another way our system failed Black Americans. Now, we have an opportunity to honor the nine lives lost that day. With the passage of H.R. 1446 in the House, we’re one step closer to addressing the dangerous Charleston loophole that allowed a white supremacist to commit mass murder because of an incomplete background check.

“This legislation will also prevent future tragedies by keeping guns out of the hands of people prohibited by law from having them. It’s common sense, and I look forward to this legislation being passed by the Senate and signed into law.” 

Though 91% of NICS background checks provide an answer within minutes, about 9% of cases require further investigation and review by the FBI. Due to the federal “default proceed” rule, those agencies only have three business days to conduct and finish their investigation. Under current federal law, if a dealer who has initiated a background check has not been notified that the purchaser is prohibited under state or federal law within three business days, the dealer can decide whether or not to proceed with the sale at his or her discretion. 

As the nation continues to grapple with the harsh realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, communities across the country are suffering from the unabated crisis of gun violence. Uncertainty drove thousands of Americans to gun stores in 2020, with record numbers of first-time buyers bringing firearms into their homes, often without any safety training. The FBI background check system was overwhelmed by the demand, delaying investigations and resulting in potentially hundreds of thousands of people buying firearms without completing a background check. 

The Enhanced Background Checks Act and Background Check Completion Act would provide the FBI with more time to complete background checks and ensure that people prohibited from possessing firearms are not able to obtain them by default because of an incomplete background check. 

During the last congressional session the House of Representatives passed H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act and H.R. 1112, the Enhanced Background Checks Act, but due to inaction by Senator Mitch McConnell, our nation still lacks these foundational gun safety policies—which over 90 percent of Americans support. This time could be different, however. The introduction comes with a new administration in the White House and new leadership in the Senate, providing a window of opportunity for monumental change at the federal level.


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