School Shooting Florida

In this Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018, photo, protesters hold signs with the #Neveragain during a protest against gun violence on the steps of the Broward County Federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

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The gun control push one year after Parkland includes a nod to Charleston

Exactly one year ago today, it happened in Parkland, Florida.

It happened here, too, in 2016 at Townville Elementary School. And also in 2015, at Charleston's Emanuel AME Church.

But last night, two gun control measures took a significant legislative step when they passed the House Judiciary Committee with one shared goal: To prevent another mass shooting from happening again.

One measure would require universal background checks for gun purchases. The second measure hits closer to home.

Sponsored by South Carolina U.S. Reps. Jim Clyburn and Joe Cunningham along with U.S. Rep. Peter King of New York, the bill seeks to close the so-called "Charleston loophole" that made it easier for the Emanuel AME Church shooter to buy a gun.

"The Charleston community did not ask for their town’s name to become shorthand for one of the most grievous loopholes in the federal background check system, but we have an opportunity now to put that to rest," Clyburn said in a statement released late Wednesday night.


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What is the Charleston loophole?

The hole in the federal law was exposed in the wake of the deadly mass shooting in Charleston.

When self-avowed white supremacist Dylann Roof went to buy a gun in 2015, legally, the sale should not have gone through. He would have been prohibited from buying a gun if his background check had found an arrest report indicating his drug use.

However, federal law currently allows a gun sale to go forward if a background check isn't completed within three days. With Roof's background check unfinished after three-day waiting period, Roof picked up a .45-caliber Glock. He then used the pistol two months later to kill nine people in the 2015 hate-motivated mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.

What would the bill do?

The legislation seeks to extend the background check review period to 10 days and allow a purchaser to request a review if the background check isn't completed by then. The nudge is meant to urge the FBI to complete its investigation.

If an additional 10 days pass without a response, then the gun purchase can go forward.

Why Charleston's new congressman is pushing for it:

“We owe it to the victims of the Emanuel A.M.E. Church shooting to pass H.R. 1112 into law as quickly as possible. It isn’t a complicated issue - if you are prohibited from owning a gun, you shouldn’t be able to purchase one just because a background check took a few extra days to be completed. Gun violence has put innocent lives at risk for far too long, and it’s past time for us to take action at last," U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham said in a statement after the bill's advancement Wednesday night.

Drama at the Richland County Elections Board meeting

On Wednesday, the Richland County Elections Board met for the first time since learning about 1,040 uncounted votes, an error that led to the resignation of its director.

My colleagues were there, and they called it "45 minutes of chaos."

Columbia Bureau Chief Andy Shain and reporter Andrew Brown report:

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The meeting Wednesday featured a state senator laying into county elections leaders, an Elections Board member ripping into the board chairwoman and a voting precinct director getting into screaming match with a board member.

Read more about the meeting in which state Sen. Dick Harpootlian told the board, "Nobody trusts the Richland County election process. I don’t trust the Richland County election process."

In other news:

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AND ONE MORE THING:

"I can promise you I’m too young to stop fighting. That did not mean I am running for president."

-- Nikki Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and former SC governor, addressing the Greater Miami Jewish Federation on Tuesday.


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Reach Caitlin Byrd at 843-937-5590 and follow her on Twitter @MaryCaitlinByrd.

Political Reporter

Caitlin Byrd is a political reporter at The Post and Courier and author of the Palmetto Politics newsletter. Before moving to Charleston in 2016, her byline appeared in the Asheville Citizen-Times. To date, Byrd has won 17 awards for her work.

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