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.
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.— James E. Clyburn (@WhipClyburn) June 17, 2020
The Senate must act so we can prevent tragedies like this from happening again. pic.twitter.com/Xa5M4e9hxx
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."
Today marks 5 years since the Emanuel AME shooting in Charleston. @HouseDemocrats passed a BIPARTISAN bill to end the #CharlestonLoophole & it‘s been sitting on Mitch McConnell’s desk for over a year.— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) June 17, 2020
That's unconscionable. #Charleston9 #EnoughIsEnough
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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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.
This is Cynthia Hurd.— Kristen Clarke (@KristenClarkeJD) June 17, 2020
Born and raised in Charleston, she worked at the local library for 31 years, tirelessly advocating education for those in her community. Her brother said she was "the glue that kept the family together." #Charleston9 (2/10) pic.twitter.com/6j0K24hN6Y
This is Rev. Depayne Middleton-Doctor.— Kristen Clarke (@KristenClarkeJD) June 17, 2020
She sang in the church choir, with a voice so powerful it "could move the very depth of your heart." Her four daughters have promised to keep her spirit alive by contributing to the community their mother loved. #Charleston9 (4/10) pic.twitter.com/E6niX9iphY
This is Rev. Clementa Pinckney.— Kristen Clarke (@KristenClarkeJD) June 17, 2020
He was a married father of 2 and a state senator in SC. After the police shooting of #WalterScott, he pushed a bill requiring cops to wear body cams. A fellow Senator said he was a moral leader. When he spoke, people listened. #Charleston9 (6/10) pic.twitter.com/KpQi26DbqB
This is Sharonda Coleman-Singleton.— Kristen Clarke (@KristenClarkeJD) June 17, 2020
She spent her life working with kids who needed her, and "she never let them down." She preached love, a legacy her son embraces when he asks people to "hug somebody that doesn’t look like you," just like his mom did. #Charleston9 (8/10) pic.twitter.com/KGvcHbUrc5
This is Tywanza Sanders.— Kristen Clarke (@KristenClarkeJD) June 17, 2020
He aspired to run a barber shop, where he'd greet friends with his notorious "big ole' smile." As the shooting occurred, he pleaded with the killer to stop. His mother then watched from afar as the gun was emptied into his body. #Charleston9 (10/10) pic.twitter.com/932eokQC4E