Tomorrow, a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing to discuss several firearm-related bills, and subcommittee members need to hear from you.
The first bill is H. 3429, a pro-gun bill introduced by state Representative Alan Clemmons (R-107). This is NRA-ILA supported legislation that seeks to amend South Carolina’s bankruptcy laws and recognize the fundamental right to personal protection by ensuring citizens who have fallen on hard times, financially, will not be required to sell all of their firearms maintained for personal protection in order to satisfy their debts. Please contact subcommittee members and encourage them to support this important reform.
There are also two anti-gun bills that need to be defeated:
S. 159, introduced by State Senator Gerald Malloy (D-29), would establish what amounts to a 28-day waiting period for firearm transfers processed through a Federal Firearms License (FFL) holder that receive a "delayed" response from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). While federal law allows for such transactions to be completed if three days have elapsed from the time of the "delayed" response, S. 159 would extend this time period by nearly ten times. It is important to remember that these "delayed" responses can be triggered by many factors, including if someone with a clean criminal history simply has a similar name or other identification criteria as someone with an actual prohibitive criminal record. In addition to this unacceptable delay for people who are not prohibited from possessing firearms, S. 159's 28-day time period is unclearly defined, and could easily result in delays that would reach the 30-day threshold for how long a NICS check is valid. In other words, if the 28-days under S. 159 slips to 30 days, then the initial background check becomes invalid, and a new check will need to be initiated. Finally, the penalty for violating this new 28-day standard is quite excessive. It carries with it a penalty of up to three years imprisonment, which would mean that even a simple paperwork error would result in the FFL holder being disqualified from both possessing firearms, as well as continuing with their livelihood as a licensed firearms dealer. Even federal law does not trigger an automatic disqualification for similar errors.
S. 516, introduced by State Senator Chauncey Gregory (R-16), is on the subcommittee calendar. It also seeks to establish an extension of the federal 3-day time frame for processing "delayed" NICS responses, although it sets the extension at five days. It does contain the same problems with excessive penalties for accidental violations, and also has problems with not clearly defining what constitutes the five days--a flaw that could easily lead to unintentional violations. Finally, S. 516 seeks to make "improvements" to reporting criminal offenses that could lead to a person being prohibited from possessing firearms. While accurate and timely reporting of true prohibitions on firearms possession is laudable, S. 516 is poorly worded. It includes reference to all law enforcement agencies reporting to the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) any "incident in which a person may be prohibited from obtaining or possessing a firearm...." It is presumed that the intent of this legislation is for SLED to take such reports and submit them to NICS for inclusion in that system's database. However, not every "incident" with law enforcement would lead to an individual being prohibited from possessing firearms. The bill makes no reference to any sort of filter that would ensure only truly prohibitive offenses be reported to NICS.
Please take the time to contact the members of this subcommittee and urge them to support H. 3429, and oppose both S. 159 and S. 516.