Closing the Charleston Loophole and Passing the Background Check Bill Are Critical Steps to Saving Lives

Black and Brown-led anti-gun violence leaders challenge Congress to reject harmful ICE amendment, and continue passing comprehensive, evidence-based policies to reduce gun violence.

For Immediate Release

February 28, 2019


Heather Cabral

WASHINGTON – Anti-gun violence leaders and advocates applauded the passage of H.R. 1112 closing the dangerous loophole that allowed the Charleston shooter to legally purchase the gun used to massacre nine Black churchgoers at Emmanuel A.M.E. Church in 2015. In a statement marking the legislation’s passage, Amber Goodwin, founder of the Community Justice Action Fund, called on the Senate to pass versions of both H.R. 1112 and the Bipartisan Background Checks Act (H.R. 8) that do not require ICE involvement or further marginalize people living with a mental health diagnosis. She challenged Congress to continue working to end gun violence, especially in communities of color:

“The closing of the Charleston loophole is a critical step in saving lives and ending the gun violence epidemic in this country. I’m encouraged that after years of inaction and indifference, the House has now passed two gun violence prevention bills. The Senate must step up to do its job and pass these critical pieces of legislation closing dangerous loopholes enabling the wrong people to access firearms without scapegoating people of color and those living with a mental health diagnosis.

“The anti-immigrant language in H.R. 8 and provisions expanding H.R. 1112’s scope beyond closing dangerous loopholes must be removed before final passage. ICE has no place in making communities safer. Continuing to equate mental health with violence only increases stigma and decreases access to evidence-based care. Lives across the country, particularly in Black and Brown communities, are relying on policymakers at all levels to invest in proven strategies to reduce gun violence and listen to the voices of impacted people, support initiatives to combat gender-based violence, stop firearms trafficking, enhance oversight of licensed gun dealers and prohibit the deadly mix of hate and guns.”

Closing dangerous loopholes, like the Charleston loophole, that enable the wrong people to access firearms is one piece of Community Justice Action Fund’s policy agenda, which consists of a comprehensive, holistic, and grassroots-driven policy framework, driven by communities directly impacted by everyday violence, and applies to every level of government.

The Community Justice Action Fund, a project of Tides Advocacy, is the nation’s leading advocacy organization led by women of color in the fight to end gun violence in America. We are changing the face of gun violence and building collective power by leading grassroots efforts with the people closest to the pain of everyday gun violence.


Firas Nasr