FBI admits Dylann Roof got gun because they failed to run background check fast enough

Prior charge on alleged shooter's record should have blocked gun purchase, FBI chief says

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published July 10, 2015 7:20PM (EDT)

  (AP/Chuck Burton)
(AP/Chuck Burton)

FBI Director James Comey admitted today that Dylann Roof, the man charged in the shooting massacre at Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, should not have been able to purchase the gun he used, reported the Washington Post.

The 21-year-old self-avowed white supremacist had a drug charge on his record that should have prevented him from purchasing a gun but due to the FBI's failure to conduct his federal background check in a timely manner he was able to buy the .45-caliber he allegedly used to gun down nine African-American worshippers as they prayed in church last month.

Roof was arrested on felony charges of possession of cocaine, methamphetamine and LSD on February 28, 2015. Roof attempted to first purchase a gun from a dealer on April 11. Under federal law, the FBI has three days to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to deny the purchase of a gun. If no evidence is found, the purchaser can return and buy the gun. According to Director Comey, Roof’s application was not resolved within the three-day limit because the FBI was still trying to get the arrest record, and he returned to store and was sold the gun. Roof returned and was sold the gun. He traveled to Charleston and murdered nine people with it on June 17.

The FBI told said Friday that confusion about where Roof's drug arrest had occurred had prevented it from acquiring his arrest record within the three day limit. “We are all sick this happened,” said the FBI director, James B. Comey. “We wish we could turn back time.”

The families of Roof's victims have called for Congressional action, endorsing a bipartisan bill that would expand background checks to gun sales made online and at gun shows, and would make it harder for felons, fugitives and domestic abusers to purchase guns.

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Charleston Dylann Roof Fbi Gun Control Guns James Comey Universal Background Checks