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5 Years After Racist Charleston Massacre, McConnell Ripped for 'Unconscionable' Refusal to Allow Vote on Gun Violence Bill

"The Senate must act so we can prevent tragedies like this from happening again."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) talks to reporters after attending the weekly Senate Republicans policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol January 7, 2020 in Washington, D.C.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) talks to reporters after attending the weekly Senate Republicans policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol January 7, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is under fire Wednesday—the five-year anniversary of the Charleston, South Carolina church massacre—for his refusal to act on legislation, sitting on his desk for over a year, that would close the loophole that allowed a white supremacist to obtain the gun used to shoot nine black congregants at the historical place of worship.

Due to a clerical error, the gunman's background check to buy the weapon took longer than three days, which meant the seller was able to sell him the gun. Had a background check been completed, the gunman's criminal record would have shown he was unable to purchase the weapon. Legislation to close the so-called "Charleston Loophole," extending the wait time to 10 days, passed the Democrat-controlled House in February 2019.

But, as the Charleston Post and Courier noted Tuesday, the measure "has languished in the Republican-controlled Senate." 

"It's been 5 years since the shooting at Emanuel AME Church and well over a year since the House passed my bill to help close the #CharlestonLoophole that allowed the gunman to obtain his weapon," tweeted House Majority Whip James Clyburn, a Democrat from South Carolina.

"The Senate must act so we can prevent tragedies like this from happening again," Clyburn said.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said the fact that the bill has "been sitting on Mitch McConnell's desk for over a year" is "unconscionable."

Rev. Sharon Risher, whose mother, two cousins, and a friend were killed at the Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, wrote Tuesday about the need to pass the legislation, saying that "their lives, and their deaths, are not so different from those of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many others killed by systemic racism and hate in our country. Nor are they that different from the tens of thousands of Black people in America who have been killed by COVID-19, a disease that kills us at disproportionate rates because of that same systemic racism."

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She continued:

This is the time to address these problems—by protesting, by voting, by addressing loopholes like the one that killed my mom and cousins five years ago and by dismantling the systems of oppression that African American communities face every day. But like so many of these problems that kill Black people in America, the Charleston loophole has gone unaddressed—even as the other victims' families and I have continually called out for action.

Many, including Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, took to social media on Wednesday to lift up the lives of the #Charleston9—those who perished in the racist shooting.

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