FBI gives Dylann Roof a gun: “We are all sick this happened.”

FBI gives Dylann Roof a gun: “We are all sick this happened.”

On the same day that the Confederate Battle Flag was lowered for the final time from aside the Confederate memorial on the South Carolina State House grounds, the FBI has revealed that Emanuel 9 shooter, Dylann Roof, was able to purchase a gun because of what some are calling a “loophole.”


On or about April 8, 2015, Roof attempted to buy a .45 Glock, but was initially denied because when running the background check, as required by law, an arrest showed up in his record. That triggered a three-day waiting period in which the FBI, through the National Criminal Instant Background Check System, was to gather more information on the arrest to determine if he would ultimately be approved for purchase. It is reported that after the three-day period passed, Roof returned to the store and not having received any further negative information the seller went ahead with the sale which he is allowed to do by law. NBC has a good summary of how this happened.

Loophole means an excuse, or way to get out of the applying the rule. Merriam-Webster defines it as: “an error in the way a law, rule, or contract is written that makes it possible for some people to legally avoid obeying it.” This was not a loophole. It was the FBI not diligently investigating the request for a purchase. It was the FBI not actually even closing the loop! That is a failure of the process, not a glitch in the law that should be addressed through yet more cumbersome legislation. Clearly we can’t even enforce the laws we have.

FBI director James B. Comey called that assessment “a mistake in a matter of heartbreaking importance.”

“We are all sick this happened,” he said. “We wish we could turn back time.”

Comey said there were a number of missteps that led to Roof being able to purchase the gun.

The “mistake” – not a loophole – was that the FBI failed to follow through on completing the background check. Roof was arrested by Columbia city police in February 2015, but the rap sheet listed Lexington County Sheriff’s Office. When the FBI could not verify the information on the arrest within three days, they did not bother to go further. Again, this is incompetence, and not a loophole.

Roof purchased the gun on April 11th, two months before the June 17th shooting in Charleston. At anytime during those two months, the FBI had the full capability to track down the necessary information and follow up with the gun store, or Dylann Roof himself. Instead, we all know what happened next.

Predictably, anti-gun partisans are calling for more laws. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) reacted to the news by demanding tougher laws to close loopholes:

“The only thing more tragic than what happened in Charleston is the fact that it could have been prevented. Our background check system and the law needs changing, and they need it now,” he said. “Congress needs to toughen up our laws, provide more funding, and close every last loophole. We simply cannot be allowed to have a background check system that fails to keep guns out of the wrong hands. Our current system is broken, and it is costing American lives.”

Changing the system, toughening the laws, and throwing more money at the problem would not have helped prevent Dylan Roof carry out his rampage. But a few more phone calls could have!

Having a hearing investigating the problem is fine, but quit calling it a loophole! Somebody not doing their job is not a loophole.

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) . . . asked for a hearing on the breakdown of the criminal background check system.

“Our background check system is flawed and riddled with loopholes. People are dying as a result and Congress cannot stand still,” Maloney said.

More laws, yes that’s the solution. More laws that won’t be enforced. More laws so those who shouldn’t get a gun can get one, and more laws to prevent those who should have a gun can be denied.

Just so long as we are doing something meaningful.

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