Now that the distraction is over, can we talk about the real issue?

I have to hand it to South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, distracting the nation’s attention with the bright shiny object of the Confederate flag after the massacre of nine African-Americans in an historic African-American church by the hand of a young white supremacist was a masterful political stroke. It worked like a charm for a good month.

dylann-roof-WEB-2But now that South Carolina has taken down the symbol of treason and racial oppression from its state capitol, End of an era as South Carolina takes down Confederate flag, maybe we can get back to talking about the real issue in the Charleston massacre: not the flag in Dylann Roof’s hand, but the gun in his other hand. The flag didn’t kill nine people, the gun did.

Today we learn that Dylann Roof was arrested in February on a felony narcotics charge and should not have been able to purchase the gun he used to kill nine innocent victims. FBI: Background check failure let Roof buy gun:

Dylann Roof, who is accused of killing nine people at a church in South Carolina three weeks ago, was only able to purchase the gun used in the attack because of breakdowns in the FBI’s background-check system, FBI Director James B. Comey said Friday.

Comey said that Roof should have been prevented from buying the .45-caliber weapon used in a shooting that authorities have said was motivated by Roof’s racist views.

“This case rips all of our hearts out, but the thought that an error on our part is connected to a gun this person used to slaughter these people is very painful to us,” said Comey.

The lapse was the result of errors not only by the FBI but by the Lexington County prosecutors’ office, and Comey said he has ordered a review of procedures that led to the failure. The errors came to light as investigators examined a gun purchase Roof made two months before the shooting in Charleston.

Roof had been arrested for possession of narcotics in February, a felony charge that alone did not disqualify him from buying a gun. But Comey said that Roof’s subsequent admission of the drug crime would have triggered an automatic rejection of his gun purchase if the information had been properly recorded in background-check databases.

Instead, Comey said the data was not properly entered in the bureau’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), and that an FBI examiner assigned to review Roof’s purchase never saw his admission to the narcotics charge.

Comey’s disclosure to reporters who were summoned to FBI headquarters on Friday amounted to a heartbreaking admission by the FBI director that the attack on members of a Bible study group might have been averted.

The failure to block Roof’s purchase is likely to renew scrutiny of a troubled federal background-check system that also allowed seemingly troubled young men to acquire firearms in previous shootings, including a 2011 attack in Tucson that wounded then-congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).

Or not . . . Let’s hear from NRA toady, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman:

“It’s disastrous that this bureaucratic mistake prevented existing laws from working and blocking an illegal gun sale,” he said in a statement. “The facts undercut attempts to use the tragedy to enact unnecessary gun laws. The American people, and especially the victims’ families, deserve better.”

Look over there — squirrel!” Nice try, asshole. The American people, and especially the victims’ families, certainly do deserve better than Sen. Chuck Grassley and his ilk.

Comey said Roof’s transaction began when he went to a gun store in West Columbia, S.C., on April 11. The dealer submitted his biographical information to NICS, which handles background checks for gun purchases for about 30 states, including South Carolina.

Under the law, the FBI has three business days to deny or approve a purchase. But if a decision is not made during that time frame, the law permits the dealer to complete the sale.

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.

“It’s not clear why that happened,” Comey said of the gap in the FBI’s database, “but it made a big difference.”

Had the examiner been able to see the Columbia police report that Roof had admitted to possession of a drug, or had prosecutors told her of its existence, “that transaction would have been denied,” Comey said.

On April 16, after the three-day waiting period had lapsed with no adverse ruling from the FBI, Roof got his gun — a .45-caliber Glock pistol. There is no requirement for the dealer to notify the bureau when it has sold a gun, bureau officials said.

This new reporting would appear to contradict earlier reports that Roof received a .45-caliber pistol from his father in April for his birthday.  The legal loophole that allowed Dylann Roof to get a gun (June 18, 2015):

South Carolina is one of 40 states that do not require background checks for private gun transactions, like the one that allegedly took place between Roof and his father. Gun control activists call this the “private sale” loophole.

It’s illegal to give guns to felons or people with felony indictments — but that’s only if you know about their criminal records. In South Carolina, you don’t have to ask, so private citizens can more or less freely exchange guns.

If prosecutors can show that the father knew about Roof’s indictment but gave him the gun anyway, Roof’s father could face up to 10 years in prison.

* * *

It’s unclear, of course, if the pistol Roof received for his birthday is the same semiautomatic handgun that police say was used in the Charleston church shooting. If Roof owned guns he acquired prior to his felony charge, he would have been allowed to hang onto them.

* * *

The National Rifle Association recently changed its mind on universal background checks, coming out against them. “Background checks will never be ‘universal’ because criminals will never submit to them,” NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said in 2013.

Yet according to a Johns Hopkins poll released that same year, 74 percent of NRA members and 89 percent of Americans support the policy.

Everyone knows that NRA members do not speak for the NRA, highly paid lobbyists for the merchants of death do.

9 responses to “Now that the distraction is over, can we talk about the real issue?

  1. captain*arizona

    How many democrats have lost elections over gun control. President Obama avoded the issue as much as he could and won twice. Gore lost tennessee over the gun issue. I am worried about Hillary starting to talk about gun control. Let the republicans self destruct over immigration don’t hand them the gun control issue.

    • You are correct, Captain, the issue is a loser for Democrats. What I think is happening is the terrible shooting incident in South Carolina is going to motivate Hillary into thinking gun control is now a winning issue and she is going to run with it. If that happens, that will only further motivate the anti-Hillary forces to ensure they are at the voting booth to vote againsy her. Personally, I think that is great and I would encourage her to keep it up. Many of the swing states are pro-gun states and that can only help to keep her from winning.

      • Rather than talk about it as gun control I think we need to discuss gun safety. even gun owners agree that criminals and mentally ill should not have guns. So in the interest of gun safety why not make the system of bavkground checks better and universal? If you are not a criminal and you don’t have schizophrenia you shoulpd easily pass a nackground check. Personally I think a gun licensee should also be required to take a gun safety class with a certified expert, that is what my husband did when he got his gun and his concealed weapon permit — but apparently that wasn’t good enough for the NRA, they were afraid that would cut into gun sales. So they asked lawmakers to remove the requirement for the class in Arizona. They really don’t care about gun safety, all they care about is selling more guns.

        • The Legislature actually decided to trust law abiding citizens to exercise their Constitutional rights in a responsible manner. Imagine that. After the law was passed, gun sales did not increase, nor did acts of violence involving guns. In fact, gun violence dropped in Arizona based on FBI statistics. Try to become informed rather than listening to the counsel of your fears.

  2. First of all, the gun didn’t kill anyone, the man holding the gun did. Like a kitchen knife, it is just a tool. What makes it deadly is the intention of the individual human being picking it up. Yes, I see you rolling your eyes and groaning in disgust, but that is truth. After all, Ted Kennedy’s car killed more people than all the guns that I own.

    Second, the system failed in this case, and it was a tragic failure, but it succeeds a thousand times more often than it fails. And even if it had worked, do you think that would have stopped this guy from getting a gun? The virtual ban on gun ownership in Chicago does not prevent murders by the dozen in the City on a regular basis. Even if you were successful on getting a ban on guns across the Country, do you think criminals would not still have guns? Only law abiding people would obey the laws and the criminals would laugh in your face. There are 220,000,000+ guns in this country, of which the tiniest percentage are ever used in crimes. Yet you would punish the immense percentage of law abiding owners of those guns because of your fear of that tiniest percentage.

    You are wrong in your ambitions and desires where guns are concerned. Your fears and political point of view demonstrate a dangerous willingness to stomp on the Constitutional rights of about half of your countrymen in search of the illusion of security and that ever present need of liberals to control people.

    • Nope, the gun killed them. Without the gun there would likely have been a lower number of individuals killed, if they were killed at all. Guns make cowards bold. the same person who would not get into a fistfight will be emboldened with a gun. Yes, the system failed. Why? Because at every turn we have people saying see this one incident where the system failed, because of that we shouldn’t bother with the system. They NEVER say hey let’s make the system BETTER. As for the criminals will still get the guns, if we did not have 300 million guns floating around in this country with at least 50 different sets of gun laws ranging from moderately easy to totally easy the criminals would not have access to those guns.

      The right wing would have a better argument if they would allow the funding of scientific studies by the CDC on guns and gun safety. But they are afraid to know the answers …

      • I have 50+ years experience dealing with guns, and I have never seen, nor heard of, a single instance where a gun got up off of a table and shot someone. A gun is just a tool, nothing more.

        As far as a CDC Study is concerned, why not have the NRA do a study, No way, you say, because they are biased and the study has pre-ordained outcome. Well, the CDC has given numerous indications it is biased against guns and any studies it would initiate would be equally biased.

        As to the mishmash of laws we have, all I can say is Thank God we do have them. Otherwise we could have Massaschusetts, Connecticut or California style laws passing as “common sense” gun control, when there is NOTHING common sense about them.

        • The NRA is a corporate bankrolled advocacy group specifically set up by the gun manufacturers to promte and sell guns. It is not an independent agency. It also has zero creibilty in carrying out scientific studies. CDC should be allowed to study the issue. If NRA was serious about this they should be encouraging the CDC to study the issue. Instead they were the ones who asked lawmakers to create a legal block, why? Because they want to sell more guns and the results of those studies might make people pause. Why do gun people stand in the way? Because they don’t want to know the answer.