The widow of slain S.C. Sen. Clementa Pinckney stood behind president Barack Obama at the White House on Tuesday as he announced a series of executive actions aimed at curbing gun violence.
After he announced his efforts, Obama hugged the family members of victims of gun violence. He embraced Jennifer Pinckney and gave her a kiss on the cheek. State Sen. Gerald Malloy, D-Darlington, sat in the the audience with Pinckney’s daughters, Eliana and Malana.
The girls are “simply amazing” in spite of their father missing from their lives physically, Malloy said. But, he added, Clementa Pinckney is still with his daughters spiritually.
“They are a part of a group that nobody really wants to join,” Malloy said. The girls missed school on Tuesday, but they were thrilled to be in the East Room of the White House for the President’s announcement, Malloy said.
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Obama’s newly announced efforts include expanding background checks and adding 200 more Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms agents to help enforce gun laws.
During his speech, Obama said other rights should be balanced with the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
“Because our right to worship freely and safely – that right was denied to Christians in Charleston South Carolina,” Obama said referring to the June 17 mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church where Clementa Pinckney, a Jasper Democrat, and eight other parishioners were killed.
Accused shooter Dylann Roof, who lived in several places around the Columbia area, was able to buy a gun from a West Columbia store in April despite being pending drug charge because of breakdowns in checking his background, federal authorities said.
South Carolina has taken action in response to the shooting, including taking down the Confederate Flag and starting the conversation on race relations, Malloy said. But people are getting killed by guns everyday, said Malloy, who has prefiled his own S.C. legislation to lengthen the time a gun purchaser must wait for a background check to be completed to 28 days.
Malloy said Jennifer Pinckney is intent on carrying out her husband’s legacy through The Honorable Reverend Clementa C. Pinckney Foundation. Pinckney worked for those that had no voice, Malloy said.