Hundreds of victims of gun violence gather at Emanuel AME

(NEWS 2) – Mother Emanuel Church served as a meeting place today for victims of gun violence, all in an effort to encourage stricter gun legislation. They’re specifically focusing on the background check process.

Joyce Thomas’ son was 27 years old and killed last year.

She says, “The reason why he was gunned down… All he was saying was in an argument, he wanted people to just stop arguing and it was at a cookout. And he wanted everyone to just chill and relax and the guy got mad. He came out there to kill someone else and he shot my son.”

Gathering at Emanuel AME Church Sunday, more than 300 people like Joyce whose loved ones have been killed. And many times, the person to blame could not legally purchase a gun.

Gwendolyn Reed says, “The guy that murdered my sister, he was a three time felon. He bought a gun at a yard sale and he took that gun inside the bingo in Conway, South Carolina, and he shot and he murdered my sister in front of 200 people.”

Mourning family members gathered at the church from across the state to discuss sensible gun control legislation. Specifically, closing the so-called Charleston Loophole, the policy which allows a gun dealer to sell a gun if the background check does not come back within three days. They say this loophole is how Dylann Roof was able to purchase a gun and then kill nine people inside of Emanuel AME Church.

According to the FBI, more the 271,000 background checks exceeded the three day period last year. For that reason, the supporters of the legislation are asking for more time.

Jackie Shelley, the local leader for Moms Demand Action, says, “Currently the bill is asking for 28 days. A normal background check takes 90 seconds, but in the case of the Charleston shooter, he should have been prohibited from getting a gun, but there was a clerical error. So in that case, after 3 days had elapsed, he was able to legally obtain the gun even though he shouldn’t have had it in the first place.”

Leaders of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence hope the event today inspired people to call their legislators and demand action.

Thomas says, “Until we face it, or talk about it, or acknowledge it, it’s going to get worse and worse, and every family is going to be affected.”

At the end of the program, the group watched an advanced screening of Katie Couric’s documentary “Under the Gun”. That documentary will air on the Epix channel on May 15th at 8:00pm.

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