A year af­ter Park­land, SC students plan rally at State House for gun back­ground checks

The State (Sunday) - - Local - BY BRIS­TOW MARCHANT [email protected]­tate.com Bris­tow Marchant: 803-771-8405, @Bris­towathome

State law­mak­ers are slated to con­sider a mea­sure this year that would tighten back­ground checks on gun pur­chases. And a stu­dent group wants to en­sure they take ac­tion.

Low­coun­try Students for Po­lit­i­cal Ac­tion, an al­liance of mostly high school students, is plan­ning a rally at the S.C. State House on Jan. 31.

The group was formed in the af­ter­math of last year’s deadly mass shoot­ing in a high school in Park­land, Florida, which sparked stu­dent walk­outs at high schools in South Carolina and across the coun­try and a stu­dent-led March For Our Lives at the State House last March.

Now LSPA is push­ing for a vote on a bill that would re­quire more time for back­ground checks on gun pur­chases.

Se­nate bill 154 would ex­pand the back­ground check pe­riod from three to five days be­fore a gun pur­chase could be ap­proved.

It also would speed up how quickly crim­i­nal con­vic­tions are added to the back­ground check sys­tem.

Af­ter the pro­posal stalled in the last leg­isla­tive ses­sion, this month’s rally will push to get the bill through the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee. Students are pro­mot­ing the event with the so­cial me­dia hash­tag #Get154tothefloor.

“Our goal is to get the ball rolling on gun re­form,” said group mem­ber Ja­cob Gam­ble. “Up un­til for­ever, peo­ple have talked about it, but no­body has made it hap­pen.”

Gam­ble helped start LSPA last year as a se­nior at Ash­ley Ridge High School in Sum­merville. He is now pro­mot­ing the event among his fel­low students at the Uni­ver­sity of South Carolina to cre­ate a sec­ond group that can push for the bill.

“That way, they can stop com­ing up here (from the Low­coun­try) when­ever we need them,” Gam­ble said.

“We’ll have some­one here to rep­re­sent our voices.”

The bill would ad­dress the so-called “Charleston loop­hole,” which al­lowed the gun­man in the 2015 Charleston church shoot­ing to pur­chase a gun de­spite his crim­i­nal record when the back­ground check pe­riod ex­pired.

Charleston Demo­cratic Sen. Mar­lon Kimp­son — who is co-spon­sor­ing the bill with Sen. Greg Gre­gory, R-lan­caster — said he ap­pre­ci­ates the students’ ef­forts.

“They are our best hope to get this through,” he said.

Gre­gory agreed. “Since Park­land, students have been very ef­fec­tive,” he said. “It’s good for high school students to be in­volved in any po­lit­i­cal is­sue.”

The students helped or­ga­nize a Charleston town hall for Park­land sur­vivors over the sum­mer and held voter reg­is­tra­tion drives in their schools last fall.

But the rally later this month will likely be its big­gest un­der­tak­ing since the Charleston March For Our Lives last year.

Students are deeply con­cerned about gun vi­o­lence and will stay ac­tive on the is­sue, said LSPA mem­ber Syd­ney Clin­ton.

“Af­ter Park­land, the fire alarm went off dur­ing lunch and ev­ery­body was shook up, be­cause that’s what hap­pened at Park­land,” said Clin­ton, a 17-year-old ju­nior at Fort Dorch­ester High School in North Charleston.

That level of con­cern from young peo­ple will keep the is­sue at the fore­front, Gam­ble said.

“We’re not go­ing away,” Gam­ble said. “Peo­ple care, and we want peo­ple to see how much we care.”

S.C. COMPTROLLER GETS HITCHED

A high-pro­file S.C. power cou­ple have tied the knot.

S.C. Comptroller Gen­eral Richard Eck­strom mar­ried long­time girl­friend Kelly Payne over the hol­i­days, ac­cord­ing to a Face­book post from the new Kelly Eck­strom.

“Fi­nally af­ter ten years he asked me!” she wrote in a De­cem­ber Face­book post.

By the end of the month, she had changed the name on her pro­file from Payne to Eck­strom.

Through a spokesman, Richard Eck­strom said he doesn’t com­ment pub­licly on his pri­vate life, but Kelly Eck­strom con­firmed the re­cent nup­tials to The State.

The re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two has been in the spot­light for some time.

In 2010, a se­ries of love emails be­tween the two were leaked.

Eck­strom was mar­ried at the time, but liv­ing apart from his wife. Payne was di­vorced.

The emails came out while Eck­strom was run­ning for his third term as the state’s top ac­coun­tant and Payne, then a Dutch Fork High School teacher, was run­ning for state su­per­in­ten­dent of ed­u­ca­tion.

Payne’s bid for of­fice failed in a GOP pri­mary, but Eck­strom went on to win re-elec­tion, and won a fifth term as comptroller gen­eral last Novem­ber, run­ning un­op­posed. The job in­cludes act­ing as a fis­cal watchdog in state gov­ern­ment and in­cludes a seat on the state’s pow­er­ful Fis­cal Ac­count­abil­ity Au­thor­ity.

‘‘

OUR GOAL IS TO GET THE BALL ROLLING ON GUN RE­FORM. UP UN­TIL FOR­EVER, PEO­PLE HAVE TALKED ABOUT IT, BUT NO­BODY HAS MADE IT HAP­PEN.

Low­coun­try Students for Po­lit­i­cal Ac­tion mem­ber Ja­cob Gam­ble

SEAN RAYFORD on­[email protected]­tate.com

Students walk down Sumter St. to­wards the South Carolina State House dur­ing the March for Our Lives event Satur­day, March 24, 2018, in Columbia, S.C. Demon­stra­tors in Columbia joined with hun­dreds of sis­ter city events na­tion­wide, de­mand­ing that law­mak­ers take ac­tion to end gun vi­o­lence.

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