WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn delivered the following remarks today on the Floor in support of his legislation, H.R. 1446, The Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021:
Click image to watch the full floor Statement
“I listened to [Rep. Pete Stauber (R-MN)] on the other side. I still think about the night of June 17, 2015, when about 9:00 in the evening I received a phone call informing me that something had happened at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina – a church that I know very well, members I know very well.
“Much to my dismay, I learned later in the evening that a Bible study that was taking place at that church had welcomed in a stranger. I grew up in a parsonage and I grew up learning that which we find in the book of Hebrew, 11th chapter, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.
“These people were practicing their faith. The faith that taught them to welcome in a stranger. A stranger came to their door, and they welcomed him into their Bible study. They sat down. He sat with them for an hour. In the further practice of their faith, as they completed their Bible study, they rose to pray; and with bowed heads, only to open their eyes to the sound of gunfire. The stranger they had welcomed in opened fire and killed nine of them. One of whom was the pastor, a former intern of mine.
“Now, we later found out that the gentleman who perpetrated this crime was a white supremacist that studied the history of that church, and because it was the most historic African-American church in South Carolina, he targeted that church and its worshipers.
“However, he should not have had the gun. And the reason he had the gun is because when he went to purchase it, and the three days expired as current law allows, they had not been able to verify the information he had given them and therefore could not complete the background check. And under the law, they had to sell him the gun after the three days. Only to find out several days later that the wrong information had been put into the record.
“I ask and I sincerely believe that this gentleman’s sophistication, he knew he was not to have the gun. Did he give the wrong information intentionally? I think so. When they found the error, it was too late. Nine souls had perished.
“Now [Rep. Stauber] said he is lucky the gun didn’t go off and these laws would not have prevented that. This law would have prevented [the Emanuel A.M.E. gunman] from getting a gun.
“I don’t know why the other side is trying to misrepresent what we’re trying to do here. All we’re saying is if at the end of the three days, you ought to move to 10 days. If the 10 days expire, you can ask for an expedited search. If that expires, you still have 10 days. The maximum is 30 days. Nobody is keeping a gun away, everybody should be able to wait 30 days.
“I ask the other side, is a wait of 30 days worth [preventing] the death of nine unsuspecting souls? That alone ought to instruct them on legislation like this one.”