FBI confirms that Charleston shooter bought gun using background check loophole

If you ask Americans whether criminals and drug offenders should be able to buy guns, you’ll get answers — even from Republicans — that range from “Hell no” to “Wait, they can?”

Yes, they can.

Loopholes in the FBI’s background check system allow many who would otherwise be barred from purchasing guns to do so, according to the Bureau’s director, James Comey. Dylan Storm Roof, the alleged shooter in the recent Charleston massacre, falls into that category. Having previously admitted to drug possession, he should not have been able to buy a gun, but the FBI only has three days to conduct background checks on would-be gun buyers. A backlog of checks, combined with erring on the side of allowing the purchase, allows thousands of criminals who would otherwise be turned down to “legally” buy guns.

The FBI has also said that, although Roof had previously admitted to drug possession, that information was incorrectly entered into the Bureau’s database.

Semi Automatic Rifles via Shutterstock

Semi-automatic rifles, via Shutterstock

While Roof’s uncle initially said the gun Roof used in the shooting was a gift for his 21st birthday, local officials maintain that he bought the gun directly, using money given to him for his birthday. In the latter version of that story, his purchase would have been blocked by the Manchin-Toomey background check bill that was filibustered in the Senate in 2013. However, that bill contained exemptions for family members that would make the first version of the purchase legal even with Manchin-Toomey on the books.

As The New York Times notes, cases like these are nothing new:

After a 2007 shooting in which 33 people died at Virginia Tech University, investigators discovered that the gunman, Seung-Hui Cho, also should not have been able to buy a gun because a court had previously declared him to be a danger to himself.

America goes through consistent — and more frequent — cycles of allowing criminals to buy guns; saying heartfelt, somber things when they kill large numbers of innocent people; and proceeding to do absolutely nothing in order to make sure there are fewer next times. Legislation as simple and non-controversial as closing loopholes in existing laws has become impossible because a handful of gun manufacturers have decided that it shouldn’t be difficult to sell guns to people society has already deemed dangerous.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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16 Responses to “FBI confirms that Charleston shooter bought gun using background check loophole”

  1. UncleBucky says:

    OH, Nothern Person. You are so right.

    We, however, in the States…. oh why bother. We are in the toilet.

  2. UncleBucky says:

    USA… USA…. USA…

    Fap. Down the toilet.

  3. zerosumgame0005 says:

    what drug did he possess?

  4. Indigo says:

    Yeah about that San Francisco “not a gun issue” . . . I’m a little puzzled and wonder whether that’s the Silicon Valley gone urban syndrome? The liberal face of San Francisco as it used to be seems to have evaporated.

  5. Indigo says:

    They took the weekend off, they’re entitled to it, just ask ’em.

  6. Indigo says:

    Loophole or slack monitoring?

  7. mark_in_toronto says:

    Once again . . . America, you’re just asking for it.
    Your politicians are filibustering for more criminals to have guns.
    Good job!

  8. RepubAnon says:

    Apparently the FBI couldn’t get the background check done in three days… and we know how terrible it is for anyone to have to wait even 3 seconds before taking possession of their weapon.

  9. Hue-Man says:

    In order to purchase guns and ammunition, Canadians must get a licence.
    1. Successfully complete the Canadian Firearms Safety Course.
    2. Fill out a form.
    3. Security check. 100% screening AND 28-day mandatory waiting period for first time but may take longer. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_politics_in_Canada#Licensing_of_firearms_owners

    Call me crazy but purchasing a lethal weapon shouldn’t be the same as buying a new washing machine. You should know how to safely store and handle a firearm. The moose will still be there in 28 days – they’ll wait. (Why accept TSA theater at airports directed at grannies in wheelchairs but allow criminals to purchase guns without a background check?)

  10. Buford says:

    Interesting how we’re warned by right wingers not to scream for knee-jerk gun control legislation every time… over and over and over again… some whacko shoots up the public square, but the shooting in San Francisco is apparently definitive proof that tougher border control must happen tomorrow at all costs!!

    Also interesting how that San Francisco shooting is an immigration issue but not a gun issue…!??!

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