Elizabeth Colbert-Busch and Ben Frasier faced off for the first time in the Charleston area Wednesday night, and the two Democratic 1st Congressional District hopefuls disagreed on the urgency of gun control.

Colbert-Busch noted the Sandy Hook tragedy almost repeated itself in Charleston recently as a mentally unstable woman attempted to fire a gun outside Ashley Hall.

“Because she didn’t know how to load the gun, we got lucky. Something has to happen,” Colbert-Busch said.

“We have to look at background checks, at least start there with low-hanging fruit.”

Frasier said people need to own weapons to defend themselves in their homes because the police don’t always arrive in time.

“You should have that prerogative to buy an assault or any other kind of weapon you desire and use your common sense,” he told a crowd of about 50 on James Island.

Colbert-Busch, business development director at Clemson University’s Restoration Institute, said she entered the race for the seat to give back to the community that supported her during her life’s ups and downs.

Frasier, who has sought the seat almost 20 times since 1972, said his message is the same as during previous runs: He supports lower taxes and less government regulation.“If you don’t think you’re paying too much taxes, you have a lot of money,” he said, joking, You can give me some for the campaign.”

The Democratic primary is March 19, and the deadline for registering in person is Friday — or Saturday if it’s mailed in.

Colbert-Busch has won endorsements from Bobbie Rose, who ran for the seat as a Democrat last fall, and Charleston businessman Martin Skelly, who dropped out of the Democratic race Monday.

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley is expected to announce today that he is supporting her.

The Democratic winner will face the victor from the 16-candidate Republican field, and possibly other third-party candidates, on May 7.

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.