On the same day that the Confederate flag was removed from the South Carolina Statehouse where it had flown for decades, we learn how the suspect in the Charleston church massacre that reignited the flag debate got the gun authorities say was used in the mass murder.
According to a report from CNN, Dylann Roof was able to purchase the pistol that’s been identified as the murder weapon only because the “FBI made a mistake” in Roof’s background check. “FBI Director James Comey told reporters Friday ‘this rips all of our hearts out’ and ‘we are all sick this happened.'”
It was a “clerical error,” says CNN, that could be blamed in part on a paperwork snafu. If the background check had gone as it was supposed to, according to the head of the FBI, the 21-year-old man charged with gunning down nine people at a Bible study class inside the Emanuel AME church would have been denied the opportunity to purchase the weapon in April.
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“Due to the fact that Roof’s background check took longer than three days to complete, the gun shop owner was allowed to sell the gun to Roof,” says the CNN post.
The New York Times‘ coverage of the admission by the FBI says the Bureau “failed to gain access to a police report in which [Roof] admitted to having been in possession of a controlled substance, which would have disqualified him from purchasing the weapon.”
The Times’ article goes on to quote FBI Director Comey expressing how upset he and other agents are at the apparent breakdown in the system that allowed the .45-caliber handgun to be sold to the suspect who has been roundly condemned for his racist views.
“We are all sick this happened,” said the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey. “We wish we could turn back time.”
An article in The Los Angeles Times on the system flaw that allowed the improper gun sale notes that the FBI is now working with the Justice Department in reviewing the three-day rule that reportedly let Dylann Roof purchase the murder weapon.
Comey said he has ordered a full review of the mistake and will make recommendations for improvements to background checks. He added that he was informed of the lapse Thursday night but that agents have been reviewing the matter for weeks.
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