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House passes bills to expand background checks, close ‘Charleston loophole’ in gun purchases

"If people can't be safe in bible study, then they can't be safe anywhere," Representative Clyburn said

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House Majority Whip, Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., greets Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden, as he endorses him in North Charleston, S.C., Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
By: Alyssa Wilson

Two bills aiming to tighten gun laws and close the “Charleston loophole” in the United States passed in the House on Thursday with a 219 – 210 vote, and they now head to the Senate. 

The “Enhanced Background Checks Act,” proposed by Representative Jim Clyburn, extends the length of FBI background checks for gun purchases and strives to close the loophole,” according to The Post and Courier. 

When a person attempting to purchase a gun legally submits to a background check, the National Instant Criminal Background Checks Systems (NICS) returns a result in minutes. In some cases, the system cannot decide and the FBI has three business days to investigate. 

If the FBI does not complete an investigation in those three days, it is up to the seller to decide

This process is known as the “Charleston Loophole” because it is how Dylann Roof obtained a gun before the mass shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015. 

The House also passed H.R.8 to expand background checks on individuals looking to buy or transfer guns. 

“If people can’t be safe in bible study, then they can’t be safe anywhere,” Clyburn said, according to Yahoo! News

The mass shooting at Emanuel AME has been called a clear act of white supremacist violence as Roof murdered nine Black churchgoers

In February, President Joe Biden called on Congress to strengthen gun laws on the third anniversary of the mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneham Douglas High School in 2018. 

Many lawmakers posted their support of the bills on social media.