Clyburn: ‘May be possible’ to close the Charleston loophole in a police reform bill

Greg Nash

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) on Tuesday proposed closing the so-called Charleston loophole in a police reform bill.

Previously, the congressman authored H.R. 1112, or the Enhanced Background Checks Act, which would would give federal investigators more time to perform background checks. It passed the House on Feb. 28, 2019, and the Senate has not yet held a vote on it.

On a press call with Everytown for Gun Safety to mark the five-year anniversary of the shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., Clyburn appeared optimistic that such a measure could be included in police reform legislation following the death of George Floyd.

“I do believe that it may be possible in this climate to get H.R. 1112 included in a deal that comes out of this current justice and policing legislation,” Clyburn said on the call with Everytown and its grassroots network Moms Demand Action. 

“The fact of the matter is, all of our prayers have fallen on deaf ears. What we have to do now is create a climate in this country that makes [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell [R-Ky.] susceptible to crawling out of his graveyard,” he added. “Now, even if we were to pass the Senate, I do not believe the president would sign it.”

On June 17, 2015, a self-avowed white supremacist gunman, who is on federal death row, killed nine black parishioners at the church.

Sharon Risher, whose mother, two cousins and childhood friend were killed in the shooting, also joined the call, along with John Feinblatt, president of Everytown.

“I really feel that this event five years ago led to us seeking and getting this legislation through the House. … It started what I call a period of reassessment,” Clyburn said.

Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.) said on the call that South Carolina Sens. Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham, both Republicans, should also be held accountable for their lack of action after the Charleston shooting.

Scott, the only black Republican senator, is leading efforts among his GOP colleagues in the Senate to craft legislation addressing police brutality to be unveiled this week. House Democrats announced a sweeping reform bill last week. 

President Trump signed an executive order on police reform on Tuesday.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for this measure, as well as the House passed Bipartisan Background Checks Act, to be voted on in the Senate on Friday to mark the four-year anniversary of the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla.

Tags Donald Trump Joe Cunningham Lindsey Graham Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Tim Scott
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