We now know how Dylann Roof was able to buy the handgun he used to allegedly murder 9 people in a Charleston church earlier this month.
The FBI messed up. Big time:
The Washington Post has more. Roof’s prior arrest — which would have prevented him from buying the gun — wasn’t properly entered into the FBI system:
And there’s an indication that the FBI analyst handling the request didn’t contact the correct jurisdiction:
On April 13, a veteran FBI examiner who routinely handled 15 or more cases per day pulled up Roof’s request. Checking his criminal record, she saw the narcotics arrest by the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department. She faxed a request for information to the sheriff’s office and county prosecutor. But officials at the sheriff’s office told her they were not handling the case and referred her to the Columbia Police Department.
Her effort, however, was tripped up by a geographic irregularity.
Only a small part of the city of Columbia is located in Lexington County, with most in neighboring Richland County. The FBI’s system did not account for that jurisdictional split, and the examiner unwittingly contacted only the West Columbia Police Department, which reported no record of Roof’s arrest.
But these major errors by the FBI and local prosecutor really aren’t errors according to the New York Times. It’s a “loophole.”
What??? Here’s how the Times spins it (emphasis ours):
The man accused of killing nine people in a historically black church in South Carolina last month should not have been able to buy the gun he used in the attack, the F.B.I. said Friday, in what was the latest acknowledgment of flaws in the national background check system.
A loophole in the system and an error by the F.B.I. allowed the man, Dylann Roof, to buy the .45-caliber handgun despite having previously admitted to drug possession, officials said.
Mr. Roof first tried to buy the gun on April 11, from a dealer in South Carolina. The F.B.I., which conducts background checks for gun sales, did not give the dealer approval to proceed with the purchase because the bureau needed to do more investigating about Mr. Roof’s s criminal history.
Under federal law, the F.B.I. has three days to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to deny the purchase. If the bureau cannot come up with an answer, the purchaser can return to the dealer and buy the gun.
In the case of Mr. Roof, the F.B.I. failed to gain access to a police report in which he admitted to having been in possession of a controlled substance, which would have disqualified him from purchasing the weapon. The F.B.I. said that confusion about where the arrest had occurred had prevented it from acquiring the arrest record in a timely fashion.
Mr. Roof’s application was not resolved within the three-day limit because the F.B.I. was still trying to get the arrest record, and he returned to store and was sold the gun.
Many major national gun dealers, like Walmart, will not sell the weapon to the buyer if they do not have an answer from F.B.I., but many smaller stores will.
“We are all sick this happened,” said the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey. “We wish we could turn back time.”
Sorry, but what happened was not a “loophole.” It’s like we’re reading two different accounts of the same story:
And FWIW, the Washington Post never mentioned “loophole” once in its reporting.