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Teknorat / flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Max Fleishman

FBI: Background check failed to stop confessed Charleston shooter from buying gun

'We are all sick this happened,' FBI Director James Comey said.


Patrick Howell O'Neill


Posted on Jul 10, 2015   Updated on May 28, 2021, 9:32 am CDT

The 21-year-old man arrested for killing nine black churchgoers in South Carolina last month was able to buy his gun because the national firearms background check failed, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Dylann Roof bought a .45-caliber handgun following his 21st birthday, but he should have been denied due to drug possession charges, the New York Times reported. He allegedly used the gun to commit a mass killing at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, an historic black church allegedly chosen for its century-long history, according to what appears to be Roof’s manifesto.

“We are all sick this happened,” FBI director James Comey told the Times. “We wish we could turn back time.”

The background-check system, operated by the FBI, has long been the focus of criticism for its porous loopholes allowing people to buy guns despite legal direction otherwise.

Since the killings in Charleston, families of the victims have campaigned for expanded background checks to include gun shows and online sales.

“I’m here today to speak up on behalf of the Charleston community, and all who are sick and tired of Congress ignoring the problem of gun violence,” Andre Duncan told ABC. Duncan’s aunt, Myra Thompson, was murdered in the Charleston massacre.

H/T New York Times | Photo via Teknorat / flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Max Fleishman

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*First Published: Jul 10, 2015, 2:23 pm CDT