Live

Watch CBSN Live

Massacre victims' relative makes plea to Oregon lawmakers weighing gun law

As they debate whether to close a loophole in Oregon's gun legislation, state lawmakers heard emotional testimony from a relative of three victims from the mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina.

CBS affiliate KOIN reports that current Oregon law allows a buyer to purchase a gun regardless of what is found in a background check, if the screening process takes more that three days.

It's been dubbed the "Charleston loophole" after Dylann Roof -- who killed nine parishioners at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June -- was able to get a gun, despite an earlier drug conviction, because the background check took more than 72 hours.

The Rev. Sharon Risher, who lost her mother Ethel Lance, and two cousins, Susie Jackson and Tywanza Sander, in the Charleston shooting, flew across the country to testify before Oregon lawmakers in Salem.

"That pain was compounded by the shock when I learned that because of a flaw in our background check system a dangerous man was able to buy a gun and shoot nine beautiful people with it," Rishner testified, according to the Oregonian.

A proposed bill would close the so-called "Charleston loophole" by requiring that gun buyers in Oregon to go through a background check with no time limit.

"I was so angry that he was allowed to do this," Risher told KOIN. "If that loophole was closed, maybe I would have my mother and my cousins and my childhood friend."

According to the Oregonian, state police data shows only 3.2 percent of the state's background checks conducted last year were delayed.

"What we know is that people who end up in that pending status, that three day status, are five times more likely to be denied, prohibited from buying a gun than the rest of the population that goes through a background check," said Rep. Jennifer Williamson, who co-authored the bill.

Williamson's bill, however, has its critics, including Rep. Sherry Sprenger.

"Sometimes we call things we don't like loopholes. I've heard that in this building a lot of times. Doesn't mean there's a loophole, it means it's the way the law is intended to work," Sprenger said. "I also want us to be very cautious here in Oregon that we're not building Oregon laws on South Carolina instances."

Attorney General: President's executive actions on gun control are legal

The hearing marked the first time state lawmakers addressed gun legislation since the October 1 mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg - the deadliest shooting in Oregon's history.

Shortly after that shooting, President Obama assigned White House and Department of Justice lawyers to comb the law in search of any unused administrative authority available to him. Last month, Mr. Obama unveiled a series of executive actions aimed at curbing gun violence, including expanding background checks on gun sales.

"Each time this comes up, we are fed the excuse that common-sense reforms like background checks might not have stopped the last massacre, or the one before that, or the one before that, so why bother trying? I reject that thinking," Mr. Obama said. "We know we can't stop every act of violence, every act of evil in the world. But maybe we could try to stop one act of evil, one act of violence."

View CBS News In