Dems push Congress to expand background checks for gun sales

Since the shooting in Charleston, S.C. that killed nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal, Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said America has for some reason become focused on the symbol of the Confederate battle flag.

“It’s a very strong symbol, but the fact still remains that though this young man worshiped that symbol, he carried out his desolate act with a gun,” he said of the alleged shooter, Dylann Storm Roof, during press conference Wednesday.

With Democratic Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) and Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Clybrun called on Congress to expand Brady background checks and vote on the bill Thompson and Peter King (R-N.Y.) introduced earlier this year.

The Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act would require background checks for all gun sales to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and people who are mentally ill.

If the Thompson-King bill were law, Clybrun said he has no way of knowing whether it would have prevented the Charleston shooter from purchasing a weapon.

“It’s not definitive,” he said. “But I do know this, we know from our experiences that background checks are effective in preventing a lot of people who should not have guns from getting them.”

Charleston church leaders and more than a dozen people whose relatives have been killed by gun violence were at Wednesday’s event, including Andre Duncan, the nephew of Myra Thompson, one of the nine people killed in Charleston last month.

Each came with the same message – “We are Charleston."

What's needed now, Pelosi said is for the entire Congress to say, “We are Charleston.”

“But we cannot allow people to say it unless it is accompanied with, 'We are Charleston and we will give you a vote on the Brady background check bill,'” she said.

Since the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act took effect in 1994, Gross said 2.4 million purchases have been blocked.

The law created the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and requires background checks for all gun purchases from licensed gun dealers.

“There are cynics out there who say if Congress couldn’t pass this legislation after Sandy Hook… that it will never happen,” he said. “I’m here to say not only are they wrong, but we have momentum on our side, more momentum than this issue has had in decades.”