Poll shows South Carolina overwhelmingly supports closing ‘Charleston loophole’

Shattering the assumption that America’s gun control debate is doomed to political deadlock, a new poll has found an overwhelming majority of South Carolinians — both Republicans and Democrats — support legislation that would require background checks for gun purchases, even if it takes longer than three days.

A Winthrop University poll of 1,007 South Carolina residents found 80 percent of respondents said they would be in favor of closing the so-called “Charleston loophole” that allowed a self-avowed white supremacist to purchase the gun used in the 2015 Emanuel AME Church murders.

Though the gunman had an arrest record for drug use — a prohibiting factor that should have barred him from buying a firearm — he was able to purchase a .45-caliber Glock when his FBI background check was not completed within the three-day deadline.

The poll results released early Thursday found 80 percent of Republicans surveyed said they would support the expanded background check effort, compared to the 83 percent of Democrats polled.

“There’s really no division by party on this,” poll director Scott Huffmon told The Post and Courier. “Where the division is, is with the party elites like elected officials and campaign leaders. Among regular people, though, folks in South Carolina are overwhelmingly in favor of requiring a completed background check before somebody can take a gun home.”

The college in Rock Hill randomly dialed and questioned residents in South Carolina from Feb. 17 – March 12, before the recent mass shooting at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand that left 50 people dead.

The poll results carry an error margin of plus or minus 3.1 percent. Winthrop University is the most consistent surveyor of voter moods in South Carolina, issuing its polls several times a year.

The findings come at a time when gun control legislation has simultaneously made historic strides and sputtered to gain traction.

Last month, Congress passed the most sweeping gun control legislation in a generation when it advanced two separate measures to strengthen gun background checks. One of them was the Enhanced Background Checks Act,…

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