South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn, D-SC 6th District, has filed a bill in the U.S. House to close the loophole that allowed confessed killer Dylann Roof to buy a gun. State Rep. Beth Bernstein, D-Columbia, says she’ll file a similar bill in December in the state legislature to do the same thing at the state level.
“It was unbelievable when I heard about it,” Rep. Clyburn said Thursday of the fact that Roof was allowed to buy a gun because of a loophole in the law. “The law is clear. After three days, irrespective of whether or not the background check has been completed, you can go ahead and purchase the gun. And that’s what happened here.”
Roof was arrested in February on a drug possession charge, but a clerk at the Lexington County jail entered the wrong arresting agency on Roof’s paperwork. The mistake was caught later and corrected, but the correction was not sent to the State Law Enforcement Division, which forwards that information to the FBI for the national database.
Then in April, Roof tried to buy a Glock .45 caliber handgun. The FBI background check put a hold on the purchase, but the clerical error kept the FBI from denying it completely. After three days, the gun store was allowed to sell the gun to Roof, which it did.
Rep. Clyburn says, “This loophole of three days and you can purchase will be closed. You must wait until the background check has been completed before you can purchase.”
But Willene Dansby of Columbia doesn’t like the idea of someone having to wait an unlimited amount of time. “I would like to see it expanded to maybe five or ten days of waiting time, but I think that there should be a limit on the amount of time,” she says.
Most FBI background checks approve or deny an applicant right away, so this would apply only to those with something in their backgrounds that needs further investigation.
Rep. Bernstein says, “Generally a law-abiding citizen is not going to have a problem obtaining a gun. And this isn’t about restricting gun ownership for law-abiding citizens. It’s really focused or geared toward those who have a criminal record.”
Rep. Clyburn says two U.S. senators have told him they’ll file a companion bill in the U.S. Senate.